Kampman practices; Jags LB one step closer to return

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Aaron Kampman returned to practice in a limited role Wednesday as he continues to make progress in his return from knee surgery, and might be able to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I'm just trying to work my way back," Kampman said. "I felt like there were some good things today, but it doesn't guarantee me anything. I have to continue to make strides and see where it's at. I'm definitely closer now than I was a couple of weeks ago."

The Jaguars (1-3) have lost three in a row and allowed a season-high 503 yards last week against New Orleans. Kampman, if healthy, would seemingly make it better.

His last three seasons, including two in Jacksonville, have been marred by injuries. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in November 2009 and spent the final seven games on injured reserve. He then signed a four-year, $26 million contract with the Jaguars four months later and recovered in time to start the 2010 season. But he suffered the same injury to his right knee last November -- causing some to question whether he rushed back too soon -- and sat out the final eight games.

The Jaguars have been more cautious with his rehabilitation and return this time around, giving him extra time in an effort to avoid more problems.

 Kampman should know more about his status after the team practices in full pads Thursday. Coach Jack Del Rio said Kampman is getting closer, but stopped well short of clearing him to play.

"Today was a step in the right direction," Del Rio said. "He just needs to be able to protect himself and function at a level where he's going to help us win ... not just out there surviving, but be able to actually impact and help us. That's the challenge."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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