We're starting a new six part series on Big Cat Country sponsored by Sprint, bringing you the first wireless 4G network. The series is called "Sprint Game Changers" and will revolve around things the Jacksonville Jaguars have done during the off season that will have a significant impact on next season. Big Cat Country has been sponsored by Sprint in the past and we are excited to have them again.
For the first part in the "Game Changers" series, we're going to look at new Jacksonville Jaguar defensive end Aaron Kampman and just what kind of effect he can have on the Jaguars defense.
Surprising a lot of people in the off season, as I first reported, Aaron Kampman flew to Jacksonville on Saturday March 6th, two days after free agency started. This was a shock to most around the NFL world as the Jaguars were not supposed to be major players in free agency. Sure enough though, the Jaguars signed Kampman to a contract over that weekend.
Personally, I thought it was a great signing. It does come with risk however, as Kampman is coming off a torn ACL he suffered late in the season with the Packers. Prior to that injury though, he had struggled with the transition to stand up linebacker in the Packers new 3-4 system. Before the switch to the 3-4, Kampman came off seasons of 15.5, 12, and 9.5 sacks. If Kampman had not been coming off of his injury, it's likely he'd have gotten a contract close to what Julius Peppers received from the Bears more so than what he got which was similar to what Kyle Vanden Bosch got from the Detroit Lions.
Depending on Kampman's health, he could be a real game changer for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars were the worst team at getting to the passer last season. Second year defensive end Derrick Harvey had quite a few "close but no cigar" moments putting pressure on the quarterback, but there was never any pressure from his opposite side. With the addition of Kampman, even if he is only 75-80% at the start of the season, that should provide enough pressure on the opposite side of Harvey to turn some of those "almost sacks" into real sacks. The same can be said for the pressure Harvey was able to put on with Kampman on the other side.
While Kampman should be a game changer for the Jaguars, fans will need to be patient with him through the first 4-6 games of the regular season. Kampman says he will be ready to go for training camp, but it's hard to envision that even knowing he's a hard worker. He's only 5 months removed from his ACL tear. The good thing about this kind of situation though is that Kampman should get better as the season goes on because his knee will get stronger and stronger. That will be exactly what the Jaguars will be looking for if they plan on making a run at the NFL playoffs in 2010.
Check back in two weeks for part two in the Sprint Game Changer series.