Sounds Like Tall Order For Newhouse

Marshall Newhouse's second career start will be a much bigger challenge than last week, when he allowed two sacks against dynamic Denver rookie Von Miller. Between the competition and the crowd, Newhouse will have his hands full against Atlanta.

Marshall Newhouse got his first regular-season playing time on offense at rival Chicago two weeks ago.

Last week, he faced the early front-runner for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Denver's Von Miller.

Neither of those experiences, however, have him entirely ready for what's to come this week.

The Green Bay Packers' fill-in right tackle faces a major test on Sunday night against the Atlanta Falcons. Not only will Newhouse face a stiff challenge in veteran left end Ray Edwards but he'll have to deal with what's sure to be a raucous crowd at the Georgia Dome, with fans and players alike seeking a heavy-duty serving of revenge after what happened in the playoffs last season.

"He's a week better than he was last week," coach Mike McCarthy said after Thursday's practice.

They'll need Newhouse to be better.

After allowing a sack upon replacing starter Bryan Bulaga against the Bears, Newhouse had all week to prepare for the Broncos. Newhouse mostly held up fine, but the explosive Miller beat him for two sacks. Moreover, according to Pro Football Focus, Newhouse allowed five additional pressures and a quarterback hit.

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said there are a "lot of good pictures" of Newhouse holding his own against the No. 2 overall pick of this year's draft. The coaches had enough faith in Newhouse that they didn't change up the offense too much to account for Newhouse's inexperience. Occasional technique errors, however, proved costly. So, the additional reps at practice this week will put Newhouse in better position to stop Edwards.

Edwards jumped ship from Minnesota by inking a five-year deal worth $30 million, with $11 million guaranteed. A fourth-round pick by the Vikings in 2006, Edwards tallied 29 sacks in his first five seasons, including 8.0 last year and 8.5 in 2009, but doesn't have any in the first four games with the Falcons. He's got four sacks in nine career games against the Packers.

While Pro Bowl end John Abraham mostly will go up against left tackle Chad Clifton, the Falcons do flip-flop their ends on occasion in passing situations. Abraham is one of the best in the NFL, with his 104.5 sacks ranking second in the league among current players. He has 51 sacks since joining the Falcons in 2006.

As if Edwards and Abraham aren't enough to handle, Newhouse never has played in an environment like he'll be facing on Sunday. He does have some dome experience. As a senior at TCU, the Horned Frogs faced Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Of course, that was a neutral-site game.

There will be nothing neutral about this game, and if the Falcons are playing well, chances are Newhouse won't hear a thing Aaron Rodgers is saying at the line of scrimmage.

"Everybody says that we have to be in tune and Aaron has to be on the same page as us and we have to be on the same page as each other and all the way around," Newhouse said. "It's a lot more anticipation and knowing where everybody's going to be at."

Newhouse says his "comfort level is increasing" and he played better last week when he began to trust the footwork and athletic ability, both of which made him one of the standouts of training camp.

"I think the big thing we said to the offense is hopefully we can make some first downs and that usually calms down the crowd," Philbin said. "It's a little bit the chicken and the egg: If you execute well, you'll calm the crowd down and it won't be as noisy and you can function a little smoother. By the same token, I'm sure it's going to be loud initially, and if you don't get off to a good start and aren't executing up to our potential, that could impact us. But he's had a good week of practice and he's made some progress in the week-and-a-half that he's been playing football."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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