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Kampman's bag full of sacks

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by PackerLegend, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. PackerLegend

    PackerLegend Cheesehead

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    Kampman's bag full of sacks
    He transforms himself from an effort guy into an outside pass rusher
    By TOM SILVERSTEIN
    tsilverstein@journalsentinel.com
    Posted: Nov. 1, 2006
    Green Bay - The Green Bay Packers don't exactly have a history of making smart financial decisions where defensive linemen are concerned.

    Just bring up Joe Johnson, Cletidus Hunt and Jamal Reynolds and you are reminded of the wasted $26 million. Throw in $13.25 million in guaranteed money the Packers probably didn't have to pay to keep Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and you have a litany of squandered investments.

    So when decision time came this past off-season with defensive end Aaron Kampman, the Packers were faced with the prospect of compounding their recent failures. Kampman was asking for a whopping $11 million in guaranteed money despite having just 13 ½ sacks in four years and not even a whiff of a Pro Bowl.

    The Packers had to figure out whether he was worth it.

    As one NFL defensive line coach said at the time, "He's the type of guy you hate to stick money into because it's not like he has a tremendous upside. He's not going to turn around and get 10, 11, 12 sacks. There's just no way."

    Think again.

    Seven games into the season, Kampman is tied with San Diego's Shawne Merriman for the NFL lead in sacks with 8 ½. He has had at least a half-sack in every game but one this season and multiple sacks in two. If he continues on this pace, he'll finish with 19 1/2, which would tie Tim Harris for the club record.

    He's come a long way from being that guy with no upside.

    "It's a good thing," Kampman said of his sack ranking. "But we're only halfway through the thing. Really it would be great if it could continue all the way through. But it's kind of like a racehorse. You keep your eyes focused on what's ahead of you and not let all the other stuff distract you."

    After sweating it out the night before free agency was scheduled to begin, the Packers met Kampman's demands and were immediately on the clock again with another defensive linemen. General manager Ted Thompson wasn't around when the decisions on the other linemen were made, but he did authorize the club to pay Kampman the second-highest total in guaranteed money of any 2006 free agent defensive lineman.

    Part of the reason Thompson did it was because he felt Kampman was on the verge of becoming an impact player. Another reason is that the Packers' coaches made a strong plea to keep him.

    "They knew where our vote was," said co-defensive line coach Robert Nunn. "We didn't want him going anywhere."

    In becoming the Packers' sack leader, Kampman has transformed himself from a 285-pound effort guy into a 265-pound outside pass rusher. When the Packers changed defensive systems last year and started lining their ends up wide to allow them better pass rush opportunities, Kampman reshaped his body.

    He's lighter, quicker and more explosive. He has worked hard on improving his speed and agility without trying to lose some of the power that made him a solid run defender through his first three years in the league.

    Last year, Kampman finished second behind Gbaja-Biamila in sacks with 6 ½ and ranked among the top defensive linemen in the NFL with 105 tackles. What almost no one could predict is that he would flourish as a pass rusher this season and join the ranks of some of the league's top ends in the sack race.

    "We felt like he was a solid pass rusher," Nunn said. "He hadn't had the numbers so a lot of people don't think he is. But that's deceiving. That's like Kabeer this year. Kabeer's rushing the passer well, he just doesn't have any sacks (three total).

    "Sometimes you don't get there. Sometimes it's not your fault and sometimes it is. Aaron has been finishing. He is a true professional, he studies it and works hard at it and tries to find every angle he can to win."

    Kampman wasn't exactly a household name around the NFL, but there were teams that were interested in him in free agency. Quality defensive ends are hard to find and ones who lead by example the way Kampman does don't turn up out of nowhere.

    "I watched tape on him," said Packers nose tackle Ryan Pickett, who played for St. Louis last year. "When we watched other games our coaches used to point out that he was a hard worker and he made a lot of plays. I heard of him before I came here. It wasn't a household name, but I heard of him."

    What has made Kampman so effective despite not having the physical skills of Merriman or Julius Peppers or Julian Peterson is his devotion to hard work. He spends hours in the film room looking for some kind of edge and then uses his high motor to finish what he started.

    This year, the Packers have started moving Kampman around, mostly in their 3-3 package that features three linemen and three linebackers. In that alignment, they will bring linebacker Brady Poppinga down and line him up as an end, thus transforming Kampman into a tackle.

    In that setup, he gets a one-on-one match-up with a guard and may either go at him by himself or work a stunt with another defensive lineman.

    "He plays with great leverage, rushes the passer with great leverage," Nunn said. "There may be somebody bigger and faster than him, but he understands how to do it. That's a big part of it. He's off to a good start. People better account for him. If they don't, he's going to make them pay. So far that's been the case."

    Starting this weekend against Buffalo, Kampman will get a lot of attention because the Bills are starting a rookie right tackle. But the Packers figure the more help that is given to block Kampman, the more it will open things up for others.

    If the sacks start to dry up, he won't feel bad if the defense is still having success.

    "I've always tried to be the same," Kampman said. In the end, it goes back how I was raised and how I was brought up and what I believe. My dad always taught me to try my hardest no matter what you do, and I've always tried to do that whether I'm leading the league in sacks or don't have any."
     
  2. CalifPacker

    CalifPacker Cheesehead

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    "Sometimes you don't get there. Sometimes it's not your fault and sometimes it is. Aaron has been finishing. He is a true professional, he studies it and works hard at it and tries to find every angle he can to win."


    That is what it is all about. Finding a way to win.
     
  3. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Wow, I didn't know that Kampman dropped 20 pounds in the off-season. I heard that Michael Strahan has done a similar thing in the past year or two, without losing his power. This could be a Pro Bowl season for Kampman.
     
  4. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

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    I love Kampmans sack.
     
  5. Cdnfavrefan

    Cdnfavrefan Cheesehead

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    Makes you wonder what guys like Reynolds or Hunt could of become if they had Aaron's heart. Just like what Terry Glenn could of become if he had Driver's work ethic.
     
  6. Yared-Yam

    Yared-Yam Cheesehead

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    jhgfhjsfgjdfkh
     
  7. PackerLegend

    PackerLegend Cheesehead

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    :rotflmao:
     
  8. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Terry Glenn has had a lot of success in this league. I wouldn't put him the same category as Reynolds or Hunt. He plays hard. If he didn't, Parcells would not have wanted him back.
     
  9. CaliforniaCheez

    CaliforniaCheez Cheesehead

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    Sacks are his bag, baby.
     
  10. retiredgrampa

    retiredgrampa Cheesehead

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    It's certainly helped TT's image for Kampman to be flourishing this year. Those DL failures weren't his fault but fingers would still be pointed at him if Aaron had failed. Credit the coaches who lobbied for Kampman, too. I don't know how he did on the famous Wonderlik, but it looks to me that he not only has more heart than, say, Peterson but he knows how to study his opponents. Knowledge is power here. He's a smart player, no doubt. Being all that he can be (sorry for the cliche).
     
  11. millertime

    millertime Cheesehead

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    i always thought kampman was more of a run defender. he has really amazed me this season as a pass rusher. he is a good player.
     
  12. jdlax

    jdlax Cheesehead

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    ^ I think pretty much everyone thought the same until he started putting up some sacks last season.
     
  13. Timmons

    Timmons Cheesehead

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    Now he has 9.5

    I never would have guessed. This and our inside pass rush is the bright spot. I thought our D-line was going to be our weakness this year. I love it when I'm wrong like this.

    Aaron Kampman continues to impress.
     
  14. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

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    I said since the offseason, our Dline was good AND deep. Nobody listened, as usual.
     
  15. DePack

    DePack Cheesehead

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    Congrats on that call!!!!!!

    However your defense of the Mark Manuel signing cancels it out :thumbsup:
     
  16. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

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    sure does. what a craphead that guy is.
     
  17. PackerLegend

    PackerLegend Cheesehead

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    TROM didnt you also say our o-line would be good? And everyone argued about it. I didnt really same much about that subject but i was hoping you were right and you were. Green 3 games in a row with 100+ yards rushing and last week 2 100 yards rushers for the first time since the early 80's. even with CLIFTON, WAHLE, FLANNY, RIVERA, TAUSCHER we couldnt do that.
     

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