Packers' staff set with eight assistants in new positions

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy says the Green Bay Packers' switch from a 4-3 defense to the new 3-4 scheme won't be a daunting transition, and the player who would seem to be in for the greatest change -- defensive end Aaron Kampman -- fits new defensive coordinator Dom Capers' scheme well.

McCarthy spoke with reporters Tuesday after introducing the team's big group of new coaches for interviews with reporters.

The group includes: outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene, safeties coach Darren Perry, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr., strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Redding, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, assistant special teams coach Curtis Fuller, offensive quality-control assistant John Rushing, defensive quality-control assistant Scott McCurley and coaching administrator Chad Morton.

On their first workday as a full staff, the defensive coaches spent Tuesday morning discussing the team's shift from a four-linemen, three-linebacker scheme to the new three-linemen, four-linebacker approach espoused by the Super Bowl XLIII champion Pittsburgh Steelers and a growing number of other NFL teams.

"We sat in there with our defensive terminology, defensive philosophy, (and) talked at length about our defensive personnel, how they fit, different packages that we would possibly create," McCarthy said.

The meeting included putting together a preliminary depth chart of the Packers' current players and projecting them into the new system.

McCarthy confirmed that the discussion included moving Kampman to outside linebacker -- exactly what most assumed would happen as soon as Capers was hired Jan. 18.

Asked about Kampman, who hasn't played linebacker since his freshman and sophomore college seasons at Iowa, McCarthy replied, "Aaron Kampman knows how to rush the passer, and the first responsibility for the outside linebacker position in the base personnel is to rush the passer.

"But Aaron Kampman is going to be an excellent fit for what we're going to try to do as we move forward with this new scheme."

In Greene, Kampman will be coached by one of the most productive players to play the position in the system. Greene finished his 15-year NFL playing career with the third-most sacks in NFL history. He had 160, trailing only Bruce Smith and Reggie White.

But the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Kampman will face some challenges in making the switch.

"You have a wide job description as an outside 'backer," said Greene, adding that Kampman "absolutely" will play a role similar to the one Greene played under Capers with the Steelers and Carolina Panthers.

"The outside 'backers in the 3-4 have to rush like big defensive ends against big offensive tackles," Greene added. "An outside 'backer in the 3-4 has to play the run hard at the point of attack. There's so many different blocking schemes that offenses try to get on the perimeter. And then an outside 'backer has to be able to cover.

"You've got to have heart, passion, drive, desire, commitment, dedication, determination -- all that. All your love, all rolled up into one and playing with that snap after snap after snap. If you play with all that love and all that passion and all that intensity and all that fire, every play, then you've got a great chance of making good things happen for your team and your defense."

Kampman has spent much of his NFL career overcoming doubters. He was a fifth-round draft pick who wasn't even invited to the pre-draft scouting combine after being a first-team all-Big Ten Conference selection as a senior. But he has built himself into one of the NFL's top defensive ends, registering 37 sacks over the past three seasons.

"Aaron Kampman's a good football player," Trgovac said. "He'll be on the field somewhere."

But Kampman, as well as the rest of the defensive players, will have a lot to learn before the 2009 season kicks off, according to Perry, who played safety under Capers in Pittsburgh and also coached there under current Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Capers said the Packers' staff will spend the next two weeks leading up to the weeklong scouting combine on Feb. 18 "putting together our plans for once the players come in."

Perry said players at every position will have their work cut out for them during the offseason.

Not only must Kampman adjust, but the new scheme also will force the three defensive linemen up front to play differently, as well as the linebackers and the cornerbacks, who'll play more zone coverage than they did while playing almost exclusively man-to-man the last several years.

"They're going to have to be ready to embrace change," Perry said. "Change can be a little bit uncomfortable, because we're creatures of habit, and people don't like change. That's just human nature. But I think the sooner they buy in, as soon as they take to learning, take to coaching, the quicker we'll be able to evolve. The system is proven. It works. And it can be a great system if everybody gets on the same page."

McCarthy, though, emphasized that the Packers won't play 3-4 exclusively and refuse to use other alignments.

"We're going to utilize our players," McCarthy said. "We're going to a 3-4 scheme, 3-4 terminology, but 3-4 is just the starting point. If we've got to play (defenses that) would be classified as 4-3 fronts, we'll play it every snap. We're going to use our players. We're not lining up and saying, `OK, we're going to a 3-4,' and we have to exactly have this guy at this position and this guy at that position."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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