Sapp joined the Vikings as a free-agent signing this offseason with an uncertain role, but one that could develop into a contributing scenario, possibly even becoming the Vikings' nickel back.
"When we were making a decision whether to sign him or not, that's where we saw him – as a guy who can compete for the nickel position but also really push for the third corner spot," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "He has a lot of talent. He had some productive years in Kansas City, so we'll see how it plays out."
In his first four seasons in the league, with the Kansas City Chiefs, Sapp only started six games and had two interceptions, but he still feels his veteran presence can help out a defense that has cornerbacks Cedric Griffin and Marcus McCauley, entering their third and second NFL seasons, respectively.
"I'm a veteran now, so helping guys out (is my role), helping guys get better and guys helping me get better. Listening and just maintaining what I do," Sapp said.
He said Kansas City played a similar style of defense, but probably played more man-to-man defense than the Vikings will. He said part of the attraction to the Vikings was their Tampa-2 defense.
"Basically, we just liked each other, each other's style, each other's schemes, I guess," Sapp said. "It's a base Cover-2 and you make adjustments out of it and to it."
At 5-foot-9, Sapp is listed as the same height as starting left cornerback Antoine Winfield but 10 pounds heavier at 190. Frazier said he believes Sapp is big enough to play on the outside, just like Winfield does in the base defense.
"(Sapp) has the quickness and the foot speed that you look for in our scheme, so he has the ability to do it," Frazier said.
One thing that likely will help Sapp and the other defensive backs is the addition of Jared Allen, who led the NFL with 15½ sacks last year as a teammate of Sapp's with the Chiefs.
"That was all a front-office thing, but when I seen he signed, that was a great thing," Sapp said. "It's a big difference when a guy that loves to sack the quarterback is in the game. The quarterback is thinking about him, so it kind of gives you ultimatum to make that break a little quicker. You're able to be a little bit more aggressive because you know the quarterback is already thinking, he's in the game, he's coming, it's a good thing to have."
Asked why Allen was able to lead the league last year, Sapp said, "He's J.A., man. That's what he does. He puts quarterbacks on the ground. He's going to stand out regardless."
With new teammates – and rejoining Allen in Minnesota – Sapp has big expectations for the Vikings defense.
"This defense is coming together as one. We made a few offseason adjustments and pretty good ones. We're just here to become one team, one heartbeat and just see where it goes from here," Sapp said. "Realistic goals, if everybody comes together as a team and plays as one, we could take it how far we want to go. We'll just take it at that and see where it brings us."
While Sapp hopes to be able to help out the younger cornerbacks likes Griffin and McCauley, he said it's been a team effort in reciprocal duty.
"Everybody's involved, everybody's into it, everybody wants to win. When you've got that going on, the only thing that can come is success," he said, which would be quite a different scenario than last year with the 4-12 Chiefs.
"It was frustrating, but you've got to let it go," Sapp said of that situation. "It was one year; you've got more to come and try to make a change."
The former Northern Iowa player decided to make his changes with a different team altogether. For now, his focus is on improving every aspect of his game and getting accustomed to his new surroundings and new teammates that he will compete with for playing time.
"I'm trying to work on everything to improve – the hands, footwork, defense," he said. "Now I've got a new defense to get adjusted to, so that's my main focus right now."