DE embraces new scheme

When defensive tackle Aaron Kampman trudged off the field following last January's humiliating NFC Wild Card Playoff defeat to the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, he truly had no idea whether he had just played his final game as a Packer.

Kampman became a restricted free agent and, ironically, a few months later the Vikings tried to lure him from Green Bay. Minnesota signed the 6-4, 284 pounder to a one-year, $1.2 million offer sheet in April, but the Packers matched the offer a week later. Kampman will continue to wear the Green and Gold and he says he couldn't be happier.

"We're just thrilled to be back," Kampman said. "My wife and I were just elated when we found out that Green Bay was going to match the offer we had signed with Minnesota. Now, we want to put all of that behind us because our new defense has started and we're making strides. The coaches and the players are weaving things together. The gap is closing as far as our terminology and I think we're heading in the right direction."

Kampman is coming off his finest year in Green Bay in which he started all16 regular season games and the playoff. He led Packer defensive linemen with a career-high 77 tackles including a career-best 53 solo stops. Kampman also tied for second on the team with 4 ½ sacks, recovered one fumble, forced one fumble and had a career-best three passes defensed.

As he surveys the defensive landscape under new defensive coordinator Jim Bates, Kampman sees positive change from both the scheme and emotional standpoints.

"From a scheme standpoint, he brings a unique look at the 4-3 defense with four up front guys and three linebackers off the ball," said Kampman. "We play our defensive ends out so wide that we play a type of coverage with our cornerbacks where we're going to play a lot of man-to-man. So that gives the defensive line a chance to get to the quarterback. We all get a chance to work together in coverage and the rush and that's the basic principle of this defense."

The pass rush has been a real sore spot for the Packers but Kampman believes things will improve.

"Before, we had only one defensive end – Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila - that would be to the open side," Kampman explained. "He would basically be our only pass rusher and the rest of us were lined up over a guy. Now we have two guys coming off the edge and we also have some defensive tackles that are getting a good push. Football's all about angles. If we're closing the angles and making the quarterback step up the defensive tackles are pushing the pocket. That creates pressure and pressure leads to sacks. All of these things make me believe we're going to have a very good pass rush this year."

And how about his game in particular? What will constitute a good season for Aaron Kampman?

"I want to pick up and continue where I was last year," he said. "I got a chance to start in all 16 games and hopefully this year I'll be on the field for all three downs and make an impact on both the run and the pass."


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