Hawk making the rare play.

Listen up people, this is the year Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, the fifth player chosen in the 2006 NFL Draft, finally breaks through and turns into the playmaking force he was supposed to be coming out of college.

That’s right, this is A.J. Hawk’s year.

You knew there would be some of this nonsense at some point during the preseason. There always is.

Back in June we got the first “this is A.J. Hawk’s year” story from Rob Demovsky. This week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy threw out this softball about Hawk and Greg Bedard swung the bat and hit it out of the park with his own “this is A.J. Hawk’s year” story.

Way to go Greg!

“I would think A.J. is probably having his best camp in his time here,” McCarthy said. “I’ve liked his approach. His conditioning is at the highest level. He’s always been a highly conditioned athlete, and I think he’s taken it to another level this year, and I think he’s been very productive out here. He’s put together some big days, and I thought he definitely stood out in the scrimmage Saturday night.”

To be fair, this isn’t the only account of Hawk having a good camp. There were several stories that singled out Hawk for playing well after Saturday’s scrimmage.

Of course, playing well in a scrimmage in August does not a Pro Bowler make. Hawk owes the Packers a few of those for being the fifth overall pick.

This year’s reason for optimism on Hawk is he seems to be using his instincts and playing more aggressively, whereas in the past he’s been more of a read and react guy. Hawk is too slow to be a read and react guy and have a real impact on the game.

“It’s definitely being confident in the scheme and being confident, not only in what I’m doing but what I know what everyone else around me is doing,” Hawk said. “I think we have a better feel for where your help is at, where your safety’s coming down, where your other backer is, what your d-line is going to do. I’ve always had an idea of knowing what they’re doing but now I’ve had a year under my belt of feeling it, being on the game field, getting some real reps at it. And it’s also kind of just letting it go and playing.”

I’m glad that you’re finally letting it go in your fifth season, A.J.

Seriously though, we’ve been getting the same refrain for the last three preseasons. It would be nice for all this useless bluster on Hawk to translate to the regular season for once.

Hopefully, Hawk is indeed reborn as a playmaker, instead of the slow-footed, bad-angle-taking, can’t-cover-a-brick-wall linebacker we’ve known these past few years.

Hopefully he can improve upon his 89 tackle, one sack, zero forced fumble campaign of a year ago because those aren’t the numbers of a fifth overall draft pick.

God knows he’ll have every opportunity to do so because the Packers will keep trotting him out there and the local media will keep lapping up the nonsense.

So mark it down — this is A.J. Hawk’s year!