Kampman The “Joker” Of All Trades

Posted by Mike Wobschall on October 5, 2009 – 7:10 am

While meeting with reporters on Saturday for the final time in advance of his team’s game against the Green Bay Packers tonight, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress was asked about WR Percy Harvin’s ability to break tackles, which is notable because of the rookie’s relatively small stature (compared to the men trying to tackle him).

“He’s a physically strong guy,” Childress said of his 5-11, 184-pound rookie playmaker. “He’s a strong runner with the football, not just a top end speed guy. He’s got some moves and then after that he can split tackles and lower his shoulder and come out the other end. He is above average in that area (breaking tackles).”

Harvin is quickly becoming a player that opposing defenses must locate before every snap and take extra precautions to stop. The Packers, however, have a player who requires the same kind of attention – the difference is that their player is a defender.

That player is DE-turned-OLB Aaron Kampman, who has undergone a significant transition since the last time the Vikings saw him. During the first 7 seasons of Kampman’s career, he played DE in a 4-3 scheme. But with Dom Capers’ arrival as defensive coordinator this past offseason, Green Bay now employs the 3-4 scheme and Kampman occupies one of the OLB spots.

With 50.5 career sacks as a base DE in the 4-3, the transition to an OLB in the 3-4 is a major one for Kampman. He’s clearly had success as a pass rusher out of the 4-3, but his new responsibilities in the 3-4 call for him to A) play in a 2-point stance, and B) drop in coverage more frequently.

“The rush stuff is the same,” Childress said. “He has played on his feet before from time-to-time. The biggest thing he is getting used to is dropping (back in coverage). I see his position evolving. Obviously he had a sack last week. He gets more comfortable with every game he plays.”

While Green Bay may need to locate Harvin on a play-to-play basis, Kampman’s versatility as a stout run defender, capable coverage LB and athletic pass rusher makes him a player the Vikings will need to locate every bit as much.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move around as their joker,” Childress said. “Nothing would surprise me with him because he has enough athletic ability to all those things.”

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