His silence is speaking volumes

OLB Aaron Kampman (Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Everyone associated with the team seems to believe Aaron Kampman will be a hit at outside linebacker. There's only one problem: Kampman isn't talking, leaving fans and reporters to wonder what he thinks about the transformation.

There are two sides to every story.

And right now, one of those sides is quiet. Too quiet.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy continually talks about how the change in positions will be good for two-time Pro Bowler Aaron Kampman. Outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene said all the right things on Thursday afternoon.

But until Kampman finally breaks his silence, all we can do is wonder.

Is he upset that he's being moved from the position in which he's become one of the NFL's unsung stars over the years?

Is he ticked that moving from defensive end to outside linebacker will hurt him financially with his contract expiring at the end of this season?

Is he simply keeping his lips sealed until he gets a better grasp of what will be expected of him during this defense-wide transformation?

At this point, we can only guess, because Kampman isn't talking. After electing to not talk to fans and reporters at Fan Fest, Kampman was absent when the locker room was opened to reporters on Thursday during the first open practice of organized team activities.

Pressed on what's in Kampman's head, Greene wasn't going to speak for the lynchpin of the Packers' new 3-4 defense.

"I can't answer for Aaron," Greene said.

If Kampman is reluctantly making the move – and by his silence, that's as good a guess as any – then Greene, McCarthy and even quarterback Aaron Rodgers did their best to put those fears to rest.

"He's fine. He's going to be fine," Greene said with wide eyes and a smile. "Did you see him moving? He'll be fine. He'll be fine. He's going to be fine."

Asked about Kampman's transition before the locker room session, McCarthy echoed what he's been saying for the last four months.

"I don't want to be redundant," McCarthy said. "I think this defense is going to help Aaron Kampman. I think there's always a hesitancy when you're asked to do something different. Aaron was very comfortable in the old scheme. I think this is going to create more opportunities for him. There's diversity to the scheme. First and second downs (are) clearly different for him. The subpackages, there's some multiplicity there that I also think will help him. I think he moves well in space. He's spent a lot of individual time with Kevin Greene. I know (defensive coordinator) Dom Capers and Kevin Greene both feel very good about where Aaron is today. He's only going to get better."

Kampman has 37 sacks over the last three seasons, including 9.5 last season. He's worked his way into one of the NFL's premier defensive players after posting just 13.5 sacks in his first four years. Unless he's awarded a new contract during the course of this season – he's entering the final season of a four-year, $21 million deal – he'll be 30 when he hits free agency. At that age, he's only got one big payday ahead of him. Obviously, the more productive he is this season, the more money he'll receive.

What's strange is all of this goes against everything we've learned about Kampman over the years. In the face of a bitterly disappointing season last year, Kampman always stood tall in front of the cameras and tape recorders to answer the tough questions. He doesn't seem to be the type of egomaniac who would question the audacity of McCarthy to thrust such a big change upon the defense's best player. And considering he's a former fifth-round draft choice who was so lightly regarded coming out of Iowa that he wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine, it's not like Kampman is the type of guy to back down from a challenge.

Knowing how he's beaten the odds before, you'd have to be a fool to bet against Kampman making the transition successfully. He's intelligent, a famously hard worker and more athletic than he's given credit for.

"You have to understand that an outside backer in a 3-4 has to do all phases of the game," Greene said. "He has to play the run hard at the point of attack, he's got to be able to cover like a big strong safety and rush like a defensive end. That's what he's got to do in this system. He'll be fine."

"He'll be fine" was the message of the day. It would be nice to know if Kampman agrees with that message.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.

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