Rushing to judgment on Kampman

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
I'm generally cautious about assuming the reasons behind a player's decision to decline interview requests on an important issue. The possibilities can be contradictory and lead to permanent misunderstandings.

Is it because the player is angry and wants to avoid saying something negative? Has he been advised to bite his tongue for competitive reasons? Or is it because he hasn't decided how he feels about the issue and thus would have no definitive answer to the question?

Green Bay linebacker Aaron Kampman falls into one of those categories. I'm just not sure which one yet. Kampman again declined to speak to reporters Thursday, this time after the Packers' first open organized team activity of the offseason. The assumption is that Kampman is unhappy about his move to linebacker in the Packers' new 3-4 defense, especially considering how accommodating and positive he has generally been with the media during his career.

For now, at least, I'd caution everyone against jumping to that conclusion. It's possible that Kampman doesn't want to take a public stand on the change until he gives it a try on the practice field. Those efforts only started this week.

You could argue that Kampman knows how his silence will be interpreted by most people, and that he could negate that assumption by making a few benign statements. But I've always thought it's wrong to hold a player's reluctance to speak against him by assuming the worst unless he indicates otherwise. (Although I'm sure I've participated in such exercises many times in the past.)

Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered Thursday's practice and noted that Kampman looked "stiff" in his pass drops. That's to be expected now. Here's how coach Mike McCarthy put it:

"... I think this defense is going to help Aaron Kampman. I think there is always a hesitancy when you are asked to do something different. Aaron was very comfortable in the old scheme, but I think this is going to create more opportunities for him. There is diversity in the scheme. First and second down is clearly different for him. The sub packages, there is some multiplicity there that I think will also help him. I think he moves well in space. He has spent a lot of individual time with [outside linebackers coach] Kevin Greene. I know [defensive coordinator] Dom Capers and Kevin Greene both feel very good about where Aaron is today, so he's only going to get better."

I'm hoping to be at the Packers' mandatory minicamp next month and I think it's fair to assume that Kampman will have a better idea of his aptitude for this defense by then. I have my own doubts about putting Kampman through this transition so late in his career, but let's give it at least some time.