Monday, February 11, 2008

Packers' Kampman Has Reggie-Like 2007

By Bruce Ciskie

January 25, 2008

In 1993, newly-acquired defensive end Reggie White set a Green Bay Packers standard by registering 29 quarterback knockdowns.

Since White's superb first season in Green Bay, no Packer defensive end had even approached that number.

Until 2007.

Aaron Kampman did more than just post Pro Bowl numbers for the Packers in 2007. For the first time, the Packers had a defensive end put up a full season that could remind folks of what Reggie White did in Green Bay.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Kampman is as good -- or better -- than White was. There will be only one Reggie White. But Kampman, annually one of the NFL's more underappreciated players, continues to impress in his own way.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted some interesting numbers on the Packers' season (it may have ended prematurely for Packer fans, but it was a fun season, yes?). Part of that was a breakdown of Kampman's superb year at defensive end.

Kampman registered 31 knockdowns in 2007, doubling his previous career high. His 12 sacks led the team, while his 15.5 hurries registered third behind Cullen Jenkins and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.

The category of "pressures" is defined as the sum of all three -- sacks, hurries, and knockdowns. Kampman led the team with 58.5. The Journal Sentinel started keeping track of the stat in 1998, and it's the highest total they've seen by a Packer.

Oh, and Kampman also managed to play 84 percent of the Packers' defensive snaps in 2007. When you digest that number, keep in mind that he played precisely zero snaps in the regular-season finale against Detroit. He was deactivated that day, though the Packers surely had to hide his helmet and jersey to keep him off the field.

As Packer fans begin to rebound from Sunday's loss in the NFC Championship Game, they will reflect on the magical 2007 season. It was a season that saw the team far exceed anyone's realistic expectations. No one could have seen a 14-4 season coming when the offense was sputtering through a rather sickly-looking four-game preseason. Then fans watched their team ride a fluky special-teams touchdown and a shaky performance by Donovan McNabb to a Week One win over Philadelphia.

Even once the offense got things going, it was clear that Kampman was not only the Packers' best defensive player, but he was probably the most anonymous star the franchise has seen in years. While Kampman is wreaking havoc at left defensive end, most media are busy watching Nick Barnett roam the middle, or maybe the press coverage of Al Harris and Charles Woodson.

And to think the Packers could have lost him after the 2004 season, when the Minnesota Vikings signed him to an offer sheet. Good thing Green Bay matched, I'd say.

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