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Kampman OK with fewer snaps

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Aaron Kampman won't say the idea is easily embraceable.

But Kampman, the Jaguars' veteran defensive end, said Saturday he's excited about the direction of the defensive line. And if the best thing for that group is him playing fewer snaps, then he said he doesn't mind it.

Kampman, a 10-year veteran who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from Green Bay in the 2009 off-season, will have his plays reduced this season from about 70 a game last season to about 45 this season, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said.

Kampman historically has played nearly all of his team's defensive reps when healthy.

 "I've tried all offseason to get my mind around that," Kampman said Saturday between a pair of Jaguars 2011 Training Camp practices. "I think it depends on how the game is going to go. Whether that's a hard, fast rule or whether that's something that is going to depend on game situations and things like that – but I do think it obviously is wise that we do what's best for the team.

"If it makes more sense and I'm more effective and the rest of the d-line is more effective then we're going to do that."

The news of Kampman's changed role came on a busy day for the defensive line.

Defensive end Matt Roth on Saturday morning practiced for the first time since signing a one-year free agent contract Friday, and as significantly, defensive tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton practiced for the first time during 2011 Training Camp.

Knighton, a third-year veteran, reported to camp out of shape. He said he is now in the 340s, though he said he expects to play around 335.

"I had to shed a few to get back out on the field," Knighton said. "I did that, and I'm ready to do some football stuff now."

Knighton, who said the remaining weight should come off faster now that he is practicing, said most concerning to some was a high heart rate during the team's conditioning test upon the opening of training camp. Knighton passed the conditioning test, but also tweaked a hamstring that day.

"It's a process," he said. "My rookie year, I came back way out of shape. This off-season, I did some things for a long period of time, but with the lockout, I was really inconsistent. This year, I made sure I could run around for the conditioning test, so it was more of a health issue. When I pulled up with my hammy, they correlated that with the weight and being away from football for so long.

"They didn't want me really hurting my hamstring and being out for weeks instead of a few days."

Roth (6-feet-4, 275), a seven-year veteran, originally was a second-round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. He started 16 games for the Cleveland Browns last season, ranking second on the team with 86 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

"I think I wanted to expand and get a different whole outlook and just a fresh start with a new team," Roth said. "I like that Cleveland defense and the team, but I feel like I wanted to come and start fresh and start on a new team."

Roth, who played collegiately at Iowa with Kampman, has 20 sacks, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in six NFL seasons.

"I know I've got a lot of work ahead of me," Roth said. "I've got to learn the defense, I've got to learn the scheme, I've got to learn the technique. Whatever they want me to do, whether I come in and play, whether I come in and start, I'm just looking to help out the team and help out the defense."

Roth's addition adds a veteran pass rusher to a line focused on continuing the improvement it showed last season, when it registered 28 sacks after an NFL-low 14 the season before.

Kampman's addition last season as a free agent from the Packers provided early season help. He sustained a second torn anterior cruciate ligament in as many seasons midway through last season, and Saturday night's practice is expected to be his first working in 11-on-11 drills.

While Kampman practiced more in training camp last season, he said, "it's just a different situation."

"We've had a plan all along that we're trying to stick to and it's been very good," Kampman said. "I've seen great improvement and done really well with how it's going. . . . Last year I was a free agent who had no idea where I was going to land. I probably was more aggressive initially in my rehab and things like that for a number of reasons.

"I think this year I've used the analogy of saying I might have been speeding a little bit last year, this year I'm trying to drive a little bit more of the speed limit and make sure that everything is going to be A-okay."

Kampman, who did not play in the preseason opener and is not expected to play Friday against Atlanta, said he would like to get at least some work in one of the final two preseason games.  

Once he returns, he'll join a line that Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said played solidly Friday despite registering no sacks in a 47-12 loss to New England. The Jaguars registered nine hits on Patriots quarterbacks, and Kampman said the excitement around the unit remains high.

 "I'm extremely excited," he said. "I really feel as though we have an opportunity to do some really good things. I think the defensive lines that I've been part of and had the greatest success are the ones that can kind of wave after wave keep coming, so there's not a huge drop-off between the guys that start the game and the guys that come in and give the other guys a blow.

"There's just that, everyone finds their role and their niche, and quite frankly we're still in that process of finding out where everyone is going to fit and how everyone kind of mixes together.

"I think once we can try to get that kind of honed in and everyone kind of knows what their role is, we have a chance to be pretty effective."

And he said if getting that effectiveness means changing how much he plays, then that's what it means.

"It's more probably a pride issue for myself because I've always loved to be on the field," he said. "I've always loved to just be a guy that never comes off, but like I said I think the reality is if it helps our team, if I'm fresher and able to mount a better rush in crucial situations then absolutely I think it's a wise move. I'll continue to trust the coaching staff and our guys that make those decisions, our medical staff to know what is best.

"You've got to earn a spot on this team to be able to be one of those four guys that's going to rush on third down or in definite passing situations, so there are no free tickets for that one, myself included. Our best guys have to be out there when we need to get after the quarterback 

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