It seemed like a throwaway line at the end of Pete Dougherty’s position-by-position story about the linebackers that ran today and focused largely on Aaron Kampman’s switch from defensive end to outside linebacker, but after giving it more thought it might be time to wonder if A.J. Hawk’s job really could be in jeopardy or at the very least whether his role in the defense might be reduced.
Dougherty wrote: Hawk is entering something of a make-or-break fourth season in the NFL. He’s not been close to the impact player the Packers projected for the No. 5 pick overall in the 2006 draft and regressed last season while playing through chest and groin injuries. (Coach Mike) McCarthy has said the injuries were more of a hindrance than Hawk let on last season, and the Packers are looking for him to be a more dynamic and physical player in the new scheme than he was his first three years. If Hawk isn’t much improved, backup Brandon Chillar is coming off a solid offseason and could overtake him.
While compiling my end-of-the-season grades in January, more than one scout told me he thought Chillar was the Packers’ best linebacker last season. If Chillar to continues to play at a high level, McCarthy and Dom Capers will have to find a way to get him on the field. Perhaps it could be at the expense of Hawk.
As for Kampman, there still have to questions about how he’ll adjust to the position switch. A Packers source told me during the offseason that Kampman has got to buy into the switch in order to succeed. Kampman has always seemed like a pro’s pro, but it does make you wonder whether he has bought in.
Safety Nick Collins did a Q&A with the Athletic & Personal Development program in Bradenton, Fla., where has been training. In it, he says, “my goal is to be the best safety in the league. Picks, sacks, whatever. Defensive Player of the Year is my goal. Three touchdowns will be tough to match, but I want to break the record. I’m trying to get five touchdowns. I played running back in high school, so once the ball is in my hand, I know what to do with it. It’s just natural.” That makes you think he has no plans to hold out even if the Packers don’t address his contract situation.