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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kampman comes up big



By BOB McGINN

October 13, 2008

Seattle - Not even a Pro Bowl defensive end such as Aaron Kampman can be held beyond reproach when a team loses three games in a row.

Until Sunday, Kampman had not registered a legitimate, hard-won sack since the first half of the Green Bay Packers' game in Detroit on Sept. 14. Even then, the right tackle he beat was the overmatched George Foster, who lost his job to a rookie that day at halftime.

"Whenever there are losses, a fine-tooth comb just goes through everything," Kampman said Friday. "Everything's looked at, numbers are crunched. And it makes sense. Things need to be written and people want answers."

Kampman gave them their answer at Qwest Field, playing his finest game of the season against a good tackle in the Packers' 27-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

"It felt better," Kampman said. "It felt very good. We weren't on the field as much this week."

Right tackle Sean Locklear, regarded as the Seahawks' third-best offensive lineman, was at least partially responsible for Kampman's haul of two sacks, three quarterback hits and four tackles.

"I definitely think Kampman won that battle today," said Will Lewis, the Seahawks' director of pro personnel. "I saw a couple times where he got him on the edge and Locklear was off balance. He handled Locklear pretty good."

The sacks increased Kampman's team-leading total to six, 3½ more than anybody else.

Through five games, Kampman had been averaging one "pressure" (defined as the combination of sacks, knockdowns and hurries) every 20 snaps, down from one every 17 snaps in each of the past two seasons.

Also, he had been averaging one tackle every 13 snaps, down from one every nine in 2007.

"He hasn't had the success, the production, he's had," said Lewis, whose job each week is to prepare detailed scouting reports on Seattle's opponent for coaches and players. "I wouldn't necessarily say he wasn't playing as good. Sometimes people find a way to emphasize getting a blocker on him."

Kampman is well aware that offensive coordinators have chipped him with running backs, but was unable to say if the double-teaming had been any more than in 2006 and '07.

What he did say Friday, and reiterated Sunday, was that his performance shouldn't be measured until the season is over.

"The body of evidence needs to work itself out," he said. "There's so many variables."

After breaking down Kampman, Lewis warned the coaching staff and Locklear about his excellent hand usage.

"Really, his game is he's got a nice craftiness with his hands," said Lewis, who scouted for Green Bay in the late 1990s. "His hands are always moving. He gets the tackle off balance a little bit, and a lot of times it's based on his hand movement.

Then every now and then he'll go ahead and stick (bull rush) him and get him back on his heels.

"He's got a nice little repertoire of things that he does."

Kampman's first sack came on first down when the Seahawks went play-action. Having to sell the run, Locklear made contact with Kampman earlier than usual and was beat around the corner.

"He tried to jump me," Kampman said. "I had seen on film that he struggled a little bit regenerating his feet. I felt I could run the loop on him and did."

In the third quarter, Kampman sacked Charlie Frye on a third-down stunt working inside against Locklear and right guard Floyd Womack.

"On two previous third downs I saw something that we could run a particular stunt," he said. "Ran it. Got it. It's always a great thing when the mind works. Very rewarding."

Meanwhile, Patrick Kerney, Seattle's decorated left defensive end, couldn't get much going against right tackle Mark Tauscher.

"They're different players," Tauscher said. "They're both relentless. They pursue. I think Aaron is more bull where Kerney is more counter.

"Both Pro Bowl players. You can pick and choose who's better. Aaron Kampman is as good a defensive end, from a complete-package standpoint, as there is in the league."

Plus, he doesn't mind the scrutiny that goes along with being a premier player.

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