Kampman settles into starting role

The Green Bay Packers are happy Kampers.

Starting defensive end Aaron Kampman finished last season on a strong note, tallying a sack in the Seattle playoff game and two more the following week in Philadelphia.

When training camp opened Monday, Kampman made the first two stops in a 9-on-7 segment.

Not bad for a guy who for the first time in his NFL career enters training camp as the starter.

"It was a great way to end and I take some confidence from that the way I really finished the year strong," Kampman said Tuesday.

Kampman started last season as the backup to Joe Johnson. He was the football version of baseball's utility man, filling in wherever and whenever needed.

But when Johnson's season ended with injury six games in, Kampman stepped into the lineup and played like a starter. Rarely spectacular, Kampman rarely was beaten, either. Now Kampman not only is the starter, but he can focus on one position instead of four.

"I remember that Minnesota game (last year), I watched the film and I said, ‘Damn, I played all four positions,' Kampman recalled. "Being able to focus on just one and hone my skills at that position really is beneficial for me."

Packers defensive coordinator Bob Slowik agrees. He's watched Kampman's football IQ grow by leaps and bounds.

"Kamp just keeps getting better and better," Slowik said. "Every day that guy gets better. He's a student of the game and probably our most studious defensive lineman. What I mean by that is he picks it up and finds a little thing out there on the field before the ball is snapped."

Kampman's stock with the team is not the only thing that changed this off-season. Like fellow starting defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila this summer, Kampman became a father on Feb. 15. The bouncing baby boy gives Kampman another reason to look forward to the end of practice.

"It's just such a blessing," Kampman said. "I go home as much as I can now during training camp. Not that I didn't before, but it's just a whole other addition and perspective in life. My little son, he brings a smile to my face and it's a great blessing."

Back on the football field, Kampman relishes being a starter from Day 1.

"You just have more responsibility, I would say, and I welcome that and I appreciate that. It's something I want and hopefully I do well with it."

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