Family History Goes Only So Far For Newhouse

Marshall Newhouse comes from a football family. But bloodlines, as Newhouse puts it, don't pass protect. Newhouse went from anonymous reserve to key offensive tackle for the Packers in two spot-on, fill-in performances this month.

ATLANTA — When offensive line coach James Campen tapped youngster Marshall Newhouse on the shoulder roughly 5 minutes into the second quarter on Sunday night, and apprised him that he was moving from right to left tackle to replace the injured starter Chad Clifton, the second-year veteran didn't really have time to think about his football lineage.

"He just said, 'You're going to left (tackle). Just remember to move your feet and you'll be fine.' That was pretty much it," recalled Newhouse of the brief sideline conversation with Campen, as Clifton limped to the locker room with a strained left hamstring. "There was no pep-talk, or anything like that."

No need, apparently.

Newhouse's young life has been full of football talk, but mostly of following by example the rather considerable deeds of his father and his cousin. With such a football background — father John Newhouse was a running back at the University of Houston and played in three Cotton Bowl games, and cousin Robert Newhouse was a 12-year veteran fullback (1972-83) with the Dallas Cowboys — talk was always pretty much extraneous anyway.

"In our family," said Newhouse following Sunday night's 25-14 comeback victory that moved the Packers to 5-0 and left them one of just two undefeated franchises remaining in the league, "you did."

In a win in which Green Bay overcame an early 14-0 deficit with 25 straight points, scoring on five of six possessions at one juncture, Newhouse did. There was the cast of usual Packers suspects, most notably quarterback and reigning Super Bowl most valuable player Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 396 yards, his fourth straight start versus Atlanta in which he eclipsed the 300-yard mark, while completing passes to a dozen different receivers. And nose tackle B.J. Raji and inside linebacker Desmond Bishop helped shut down a Falcons running game that had gashed the Green Bay front seven early on.

Cornerbacks Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields clamped down on the Atlanta receivers. And kicker Mason Crosby converted four field goals.

But the Packers had a complement of lesser-known players — No. 4 wide receiver James Jones, whose 70-yard touchdown catch was arguably the key play of the night, contributed with a 140-yard outing; defensive backs Charlie Peprah (a former Atlanta castoff) and Jarrett Bush with interceptions; and rookie offensive tackle Derek Sherrod, the first-round draft pick who struggled in training camp and the preseason, and couldn't win the starting spot projected for him.

None of those role players, though, came up any bigger than Newhouse.

A fifth-round choice from TCU in 2010, Newhouse, who didn't play a single snap as a rookie, started his second straight game at right tackle, in placed of the injured Bryan Bulaga (knee). But when Clifton went to the sideline with his hamstring injury with 9:28 left in the second quarter, having been shoved back on a bull-rush by Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards, the inexperienced Newhouse was asked to switch to the left side and be Rodgers' blindside bodyguard.

Sherrod, the final player selected in the first round six months ago, replaced him at the right tackle spot.

"When you add everything together, I thought those guys went out and competed hard," offensive coordinator told Packer Report on Monday. "It took Derek a couple of plays to get his feet underneath him, but overall they competed very well and they gave very very good effort. There's obviously some technique things that we need to straighten out, but I thought from that standpoint, a competitive standpoint, they didn't make a lot of mistakes, and they gave us a chance. We didn't have to alter the offense. We didn't have an offensive staff meeting on the phones and saying ok what are we going to do now. That's probably the best tribute you can give those guys is that we kinda stayed with our game plan, we kinda ran our offense and those guys contributed to that."

Especially Newhouse, a three-year starting left tackle at TCU, but a guy who had practiced sparingly at the position with the Packers and little of late.

All four Atlanta sacks in the game came after Clifton's injury, and Newhouse was cleanly beaten by Edwards (who switched from left to right end on occasion to compensate for the absence of an injured John Abraham) in the fourth quarter for a loss of 8 yards. But, all in all, the second-year pro performed well in a touch spot and a loud and hostile environment.

It helps, of course, to have a quarterback like Rodgers, who buys time in the pocket with his feet and seems to always maintain eyesight down the field with receivers. But, starting only his second game, and logging his most extensive time on the left side, Newhouse certainly didn't embarrass himself.

Or his family.

Said Rodgers: "I never worried, 'Well, we've got a young, new guy out there.' I thought he did a really good job."

Newhouse seemed almost overwhelmed after the contest — something he never did during it — when he looked up from his locker stall and saw a phalanx of reporters in front of him. Normally he would shower rather anonymously and head for the bus. On Sunday night, though, conscious of his performance and his lineage, the media was quick to recognize his contributions.

"The bloodlines are great," Newhouse said. "But good bloodlines aren't going to help you block a pass rusher, you know? I mean, those guys aren't out there saying, like, 'Your dad is who? Your cousin is who?' It's pretty much on you and that's it. Around here, no one worries about that kind of stuff.

"You're expected to play when it's your turn, and play well. We're a team that's all about overcoming adversity. No panic. The mindset around here is to live up to the level of the Green Bay Packers and what's expected of you."

And, in the case of Marshall Newhouse, to live up to your surname, as well.

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Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.

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