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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Kampman rewarded for talent, work ethic




by Chris Havel

April 5, 2006

There is a reason Aaron Kampman received a lucrative contract extension from the Green Bay Packers this offseason. It is the same reason Kampman is being honored Thursday at the Lee Remmel Sports Award Banquet.

Kampman is all heart and all hustle, all the time.

The defensive end’s work ethic, which is off the charts, tends to overshadow his talent, which is considerable.

No matter.

Kampman knows who he is (a Christian and a family man), what he is (a really good NFL defensive end) and where he is going (wherever the next step down the path toward self-improvement leads him).

No worries

The Packers paid Kampman a king’s ransom without having to worry he might quit on them. That is huge, and if you disagree, consider the recent past. A lot of fans griped when the Packers overestimated and overpaid Jamal Reynolds, Cletidus Hunt and Joe Johnson. They couldn’t imagine what the team saw in them.

There’s no guesswork with Kampman.

That’s why fans should celebrate Kampman’s extension as a victory in free agency. He has started every game the past two seasons. He had 105 tackles last season. It tied for second on the team, and it was the second-most by a defensive lineman in team history, trailing only defensive lineman Ezra Johnson’s 107 in 1983.

“With free agency the way it is, if you’re going to make a commitment, both sides have to be willing and know and believe in one another,” he said. “You have to have that from both sides. That’s just huge.”

Excited about staff

Kampman, 26, enters his fifth season determined to do everything he can to improve upon the Packers’ dismal 4-12 record last season. He is one of the leaders in new strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson’s weight room. He also is itching to get to work for new defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, who was his defensive line coach last year.

“I’m probably biased, but I can’t say enough good things about (Sanders),” he said. “He’s a tremendous man. He understands things. He’s been behind the scenes a lot, but he knows the ins and outs, and he was a very valuable part of what we did under (former defensive coordinator) Jim Bates.”

Kampman admitted he doesn’t know coach Mike McCarthy well yet, but what he does know, he likes.

“He tells it like it is, and that’s important, because guys want to know where they stand and what direction we’re going,” he said. “He’s also personable, and personality is really important. While we’re all professionals, the relationship aspect is critical. That helps drive the thing. In the end, you’ve got to do your job as a professional, but that (coach-player) relationship is like the oil that makes all the gears turn.”

I suspect Kampman knows a thing or two about oil and gears and engines, considering his high motor, lucrative extension or not.

“I’m still driving my Chevy truck,” he said with a chuckle. “I am who I am.”

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