Jaguars’ Kampman out for season with knee injury

Aaron Kampman brought leadership, tenacity, production and a

strong work ethic to Jacksonville’s defense this season.

The Jaguars are about to find out if those qualities rubbed off

on his young teammates.

Kampman tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee

during practice Thursday, leaving the Jaguars without their best

pass rusher and their defensive leader.

Kampman injured his knee during a non-contact drill. Tests

Friday revealed the severity of the injury. He will be placed on

injured reserve and have surgery at a later date.

”It’s a shame because he’s a special young man in a lot of

different ways, not only on the field but in the locker room, in

the community,” coach Jack Del Rio said.

The Jaguars (4-4) signed Kampman to a four-year, $26 million

contract in March to upgrade a defense that had a league-worst 14

sacks in 2009.

Jacksonville felt like it was getting a bargain even though

Kampman tore the ACL in his left knee last November. He recovered

in time to make an immediate impact this season and leads the team

with four sacks and 30 quarterback pressures.

”Any time you have one of your main guys out for the year,

especially with a guy that’s not just a starter but an impact

player, it hurts,” cornerback Rashean Mathis said. ”It hurts a

lot. But those things happen all the time in the league, week-in

and week-out it’s bound to happen.”

Without Kampman, the Jaguars are expected to move Jeremy Mincey

to the right side and insert former first-round draft pick Derrick

Harvey back into the starting lineup. Mincey has a broken right

hand, but is expected to play with a small cast.

”I’m just going to have to step it up another notch,” Mincey

said. ”I’ll get the job done, even with a broken hand. That’s not

going to keep me from emerging. Everybody has to play better.

That’s the nature of this game. It’s what you have to do if you’re

going to be successful.”

Harvey, the eighth overall pick in 2008, has been mostly a

disappointment in three seasons. He was benched two weeks ago, but

now gets a chance to redeem himself.

”There is a void there and we have to realize that,” Mathis

said. ”The guys who are stepping up have to realize that the guy

they’re replacing played some good football. They have to be

willing to step up and be able to give us something, give us an

impact.”

Rookies Larry Hart, Austen Lane and Aaron Morgan also will get

more playing time.

But it remains to be seen whether a first-round bust, an

oft-injured player with potential and three rookies will be able to

fill Kampman’s shoes.

Practicing in shorts, his No. 74 jersey and a helmet, Kampman

tweaked his knee when he planted his right leg during a pass-rush

drill. He immediately suspected it was a torn ACL since he did the

same thing to his other knee less than a year ago.

”It’s not a feeling you forget or want to feel again,” Kampman

said.

But he held out hope until tests proved otherwise.

”It’s disappointing, definitely,” Kampman said. ”I can

honestly say that this last experience has made me a better man,

has made me stronger. I have learned tremendous lessons through it

and I guess I’ve got more lessons to learn. I’ll attack it with the

same vigor that I did previously and continue to move forward.

”Being a man of faith, I believe you’re never given more than

you can handle. This is definitely another big one, but … there’s

more lessons to learn.”