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Top 10 Players in 2009: #4 LB Aaron Kampman

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If for no other reason, LB Aaron Kampman is in the top 10 because he is their pass rush. He had 9.5 sacks last season, followed by LB A.J. Hawk and CB Charles Woodson with 3 apiece. And Hawk only had 1 sack in the last 14 games. And Kampman was even better with 15.5 sacks in 2006 and 12 sacks in 2007.

As a defensive end, he was a true two-way player. As good as he is at getting after the QB, he's a solid run stopper too.

Unfortunately, he won't be playing defensive end full-time starting this season because the Packers are switching to a 3-4 defense with Kampman moving to linebacker.

Here's what I said back in February about the move:

Although he'll be playing outside linebacker, expect to see him lining up in a 3 point stance just as often as he drops back in coverage. If you watched Pittsburgh this year in the playoffs and saw LB LaMarr Woodley terrorize the opposing QB, then you know that Kampman can still be an effective pass rusher.

Plus new defensive coordinator Dom Capers has said he's not going all in on the 3-4 defense. He compared the situation in Green Bay to when he took over the defense in Jacksonville several years ago:

At Jacksonville they'd always been a 4-3 team and we continued to use some elements of the 4-3. You had a Tony Brackens who was a defensive end that did a lot of defensive end and outside linebacker types of things for us.

So expect to see Kampman playing like he did as a defensive end in past seasons, although he will often be dropping back in pass coverage or playing in space. That was something he did on occasion under former defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, so it's not a foreign language to him. But it's not something that Kampman seems comfortable with yet.

Will he be just as good against the run as a linebacker? I think so. I don't think his style he used to fight off offensive lineman on the line, trying to get his hands on them and move past them, will change. He might even be helped by playing a few yards off the line so he can see the play develop.

Will he be just as good as a pass rusher? It's possible, with him playing often as a down lineman, that we might not even notice a big difference. He's still the first player you expect to put pressure on the QB no matter where he is lining up.

He's the team's best pass rusher, and arguably their best run stopper, and no matter what his official position is, he should be one of the top players in 2009.