Thursday, June 10, 2004 had a number of articles from the June minicamp yesterday, but there are just a few points that caught my attention.

First was an article on DE Aaron Kampman. Sometimes Kampman seems to be everything an NFL team expects in a power defensive end because he won't be pushed off the corner while he forces the running back to go further outside before turning upfield and he generates some pass rush by pushing the offensive tackle back into the quarterback. Othertimes Kampman seems to be pushed around and it is obvious that isn't the strongest or most talented defensive end in the NFL. Kampman is only 24 years old and he is still learning how to play, but he will probably never be an anchor on the defensive line which is why the Packers spent most of this offseason looking at free agent defensive ends and drafted multiple defensive lineman in this April's draft who are being auditioned at defensive end and tackle. Kampman has shown the potential to be a reliable starter in the NFL and he has shown the dedication to working out and film study that coaches love. Kampman deserves to start in 2004 and be given the full season to show that he can be the Packers starting defensive end for the next few seasons.

Second was that Kampman really should never have had any opportunity to start with the Packers because the Packers signed DE Joe Johnson to start in Kampman's position the same year that the Packers drafted Kampman. Yesterday, the Packers release Johnson, who has been a big bust. He doesn't rank as one of the biggest busts ever in free agency because teams are paying too much for marginal or problem players every year. Denver's fiasco with DT Daryl Gardner is one recent example, while Dallas's signing of WR Joey Galloway for $42 million and 2 1st round draft choices and Carolina's signing of DT Sean Gilbert for approx $46 million and 2 1st round draft choices are probably the two biggest free agent busts ever. Teams that overpay for marginal talent (like Atlanta's signing of ex-Packer CB Tyrone Williams) hurts but not as bad as when a team spends top dollar on a truly talented player with a history of physical injuries or disciplinary problems. Washington seems to find new ways to burn money every offseason. For example, Philadelphia should have been wary of the injury history surrounding DE Jevon Kearse in Tennessee, but they still decided to pay him a $16 million signing bonus this offseason. Just as Philadelphia should have been concerned about Kearse, the Packers should have been careful with Johnson, who has a lot of talent but he had a lot of injuries even before he was signed by the Packers. The Packers took a gamble, just as many teams in the NFL have done in the past few years, and the Packers lost it.

Third was that WR Carl Ford has an injured hamstring. It doesn't seem to be too serious, but Ford has just reinjured it. Ford showed some promise last preseason before the Packers hid him on injured reserve for all of last season. Ford's injury wasn't too serious last season, but it was unlikely he would have made the roster because of the injury (he was expected to miss a few weeks) and he possibly would have been offered a contract by another team and wouldn't have settled for a spot on the Packers practice squad. This season he comes into the preseason as the likely number four wide receiver (clearly behind WR Donald Driver, WR Robert Ferguson, and WR Javon Walker). It can be a very important position, last season both Driver and Ferguson were injured by week 2 and the Packers had to sign WR Antonio Freeman. If Ford can't stay healthy or doesn't perform like he did last season, then its very likely the Packers look to sign a veteran free agent wide receiver again this season for some added depth.

Fourth, Cleveland finally gave up and released QB Tim Couch. Couch still wants a starting job or a one year contract so he can find a starting job in 2005. Its unknown how many teams will show interest in Couch now that he can be signed without trading a draft pick in compensation for him, but now it is possible the Packers will offer him a 1 year contract and let him compete with QB Craig Nall for the backup quarterback spot.

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