Smooth(er) sailing for Kampman*

June, 22, 2009
6/22/09
6:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

*Note: I wrote the original headline on this post ("No train wrecks here") early Monday afternoon, long before I learned of the deadly Metrorail crash in Washington, D.C. I apologize to anyone who thought I was making a terrible joke. It was an honest oversight, and I changed the headline Tuesday morning. Thanks to those who provided feedback.  

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The thing that stood out most Monday morning was just how odd it was to see Aaron Kampman in a two-point stance after seven years of watching him as a defensive end. The number (74), the body frame (tall and lanky) still screamed "DEFENSIVE END" to me.

 
  Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire
  Aaron Kampman is working on making the adjustment from defensive end to linebacker.

Kampman is a linebacker now in Green Bay's new 3-4 defense. And I have to say that once you get past the visual, nothing about his work Monday morning looked out of place.

I won't claim to be an expert personnel evaluator, and it's always dangerous to draw conclusions based on one non-contact practice. But everyone seemed to agree Monday that Kampman has made some progress in a difficult transition that seemed to have him on edge earlier this offseason. I saw him bat away one ball during pass coverage drills, and in general he looked smoother in the open field than I anticipated.

Maybe my expectations were too low for a guy who doesn't seem built to play outside linebacker, but Kampman was pretty fluid in the open field. Will he be able to make an open-field tackle once contact drills begin in training camp? Stay tuned.

"He has looked pretty comfortable throughout the month of June to me," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I like what I have seen [from] Aaron Kampman. Aaron has spent a lot of extra time with his position coach. He seems comfortable out there in space in the things that we are asking him to do. I think he is a much better athlete than people give him credit [for]."

As well, Kampman was noticeably more relaxed during an interview and expressed a bit more optimism than he did several weeks ago. Here's a snippet of his session with reporters:

How would you assess the adjustment at this point?

Aaron Kampman: Kind of the same as it was before. I continue to go out there every day, learn the system, try to make the learning curve, don't make any mistakes. If I do make a mistake, don't make it again.

Do you watch film of practices? If so, how would you grade yourself so far?

AK: Yeah, we watch ourselves. There are days that I do well and days that I'd like to have back. But all in all, you'd have to ask the coaches on my grade or whatever.

Do you think the defense as a whole is improving?

AK: I think our communication has gotten better. I think for everyone there is a learning curve. There is no substitute for experience. You go out and you try to get better every day and I think that's what we're trying to do here.

Have you seen that improvement?

AK: Yeah, I think there are some times when we've definitely shown some things that are positive. So that's what you try to build on.

I won't try to give you an overly detailed breakdown off the team based on one morning practice. Instead, let's take Tuesday's session and go from there. Until then ...

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