Through hard work and determination, Aaron Kampman has developed from a fifth-round pick with limited expectations, into one of the finest pass-rushers in the NFL.
His excellent play has garnered him two Pro Bowl invitations and recognition as one of the best all-around defensive ends in football.
This season, in his eighth year in the league, Kampman is being asked to become an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense that new Packers' Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers favors.
Below are some questions that I would ask Aaron Kampman pertaining to the switch, his evolution as a pass-rusher, and what he expects from a talented defensive unit in 2009 after a down year for the defense in 2008.
1. What were your first thoughts upon hearing that the Packers were bringing in 3-4 guru Dom Capers to run the defense?
2. As a two-time Pro Bowler and impact player at end, was there any apprehension upon learning that you would be making a switch?
3. How did that conversation unfold?
4. How has the impending switch to linebacker affected your offseason preparation, and what aspects of the switch are you focusing on to be successful?
5. With Kevin Greene joining the coaching staff, many are envisioning you as that style of physical, pass-rushing linebacker. Have you looked to him as a model to follow in the scheme, and are their any other players you have been watching to get a feel for the position?
6. What are your expectations for the defense in 2009, with a new scheme being installed? And what kind of learning curve do you expect, considering many players will be filling different roles than they are accustom to?
7. What expectations do you have for yourself in 2009, and can you be the same pass-rushing threat at linebacker as you have been at end?
8. Though you have started for most of your career, your ability to get to the quarterback seemed to blossom in 2006, your fifth season in the league. How have you evolved as a pass-rusher, and what led to your development from a run-stuffing end into a dominant sack-artist?
9. As a rusher, who have you modeled yourself after, and who on the team, coach or player, really helped you become the impact player that you are today?
10. You guys lost a lot of tight games last season, and were unable to get the big stop at times late on several occasions. To what do you attribute some of the struggles of 2008, and what things is the defense working on to finish games stronger in 2009?
11. What is the ceiling for this defense (as currently constructed) in both the short and long-term?
12. If Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji play to their potential, they should make it easier for you to wreak havoc on quarterbacks, especially with Raji eating up blockers. What are your thoughts on these rookies, and what do you think they can bring to the table for this defense?
13. It has been beaten to death in the media of late, but what are your thoughts on the Brett Favre saga, and how weird would it be to be rushing him in a purple uniform?
14. After practicing against him for years with him wearing the red jersey in practice, what would it be like to get a shot at Favre?
15. With Jay Cutler joining Chicago, the Lions drafting Matthew Stafford at No. 1, and the Vikings adding a solid pro like Sage Rosenfels (and potentially Favre), how does that affect your defensive strategy within the division, and do you feel any added pressure with the division loading up on more talented signal-callers?
16. What differences have you seen in Aaron Rodgers this offseason, now that he has a season under his belt, in terms of leadership, poise, and command of the offense? Without the quarterback controversy he had to deal with last offseason, does he appear sharper and more in control?
17. Growing up and playing at Iowa, do you see any similarities between playing for the Hawkeyes and Packers, and did you sort of feel at home upon being drafted by the Packers, given the small-town atmosphere?
18. What do you like to do in the offseason, outside of football?
19. Tell me about the first post-practice bike-riding experience with the fans, and the connection that the Packers have with their fans in general.
20. What quarterback do you really want to get after, that you have yet to sack in the league?
21. Of the quarterbacks you have faced, who is the toughest to get to?
22. Who is the most challenging offensive lineman to beat?
23. You have piled up an impressive resume as a Packer entering what will be your eighth season in the league. What else do you hope to accomplish as a player, and how do you want to be remembered in Green Bay?