As the Cowboys continue to hunt for a consistent pass rush, Charles Tapper has become the forgotten man in the list of defensive ends expected to contribute in Rod Marinelli’s rotation. The Cowboys drafted Tapper in the fourth round last year, 34 picks before they took Dak Prescott, but Tapper didn’t play a down.
Tapper was diagnosed with pars defect, a stress fracture in the lumbar part of the spine that required surgery last summer. It’s a condition he has had since birth but didn’t know it until one morning last summer in training camp when he couldn’t move. Tapper spent his rookie season on injured reserve.
“At the end of the day, I just want to give coach Marinelli a hard decision to make,” Tapper said, via Kevin Casas of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Tapper played inside in Oklahoma’s scheme, so he has had to adjust to playing outside. That meant slimming down, and Tapper said he has lost nearly 20 pounds, reducing his body fat to 11 percent.
“I wasn’t prepared for it really,” Tapper said of playing defensive end. “They wanted me running, and nothing can prepare you for that except being in that moment and getting in better condition coming into training camp.”
The Cowboys had only 36 sacks last season, lost Jack Crawford in free agency and will have David Irving (four games) and Randy Gregory serving suspensions. Thus, they need all the help they can get.