Newhouse Gets Biggest Test Against Allen

Second-year left tackle Marshall Newhouse will line up against NFL sacks leader and noted Packers killer Jared Allen on Sunday at the raucous Metrodome. A rejuvenated Allen arrived at training camp hungry after a subpar season and is on pace for a league-record 25 sacks.

One game will not make a career, but this one will be the ultimate measuring stick for Green Bay Packers left tackle Marshall Newhouse.

Newhouse, who excelled last week against St. Louis in his first NFL start at left tackle in place of Pro Bowler Chad Clifton, faces a much bigger challenge this week: at the Metrodome against NFL sacks leader Jared Allen.

"Every week has been big for him," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on Wednesday. "This is a new challenge each week. I'm really proud of the way he's played. I'm not worried about him. Jared is a great player. He's one of the premier pass rushers in this league. Tackles are expected to block ends, so we expect him to be prepared and play well."

Newhouse certainly did that against the Rams. Going against the potent rotation of veteran James Hall, who had 10.5 sacks last season, and first-round pick Robert Quinn, Newhouse didn't allow Rodgers to get hit on 33 dropbacks.

Allen, however, is a whole other animal. And the Metrodome isn't Lambeau Field. Allen wants to prove that point from the opening snap.

"I take the mind-set every week that I want to beat the guy from the get-go," Allen told Packers beat reporters in a conference call on Wednesday. "I treat every game the same. I do my homework, watch as much film as possible, get myself right to help our team win.

"If you go into a game thinking ‘I've got a young tackle, I'm just going to pass rush every play,' then you're going to get gashed on the run, and vice-versa. If you're so worried about the run, then you're going to get gashed by the passing game. So, really, just for me it's all about block reaction and how I react to a set I get and then go to work from there."

Marshall Newhouse
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Not only does Allen lead the league with 9.5 sacks this season — after "just" 11 last season — but he leads the league with 92.5 since entering the NFL with the Chiefs in 2004. He's tied a team record with a sack in eight consecutive games.

"I think you have to go back to his offseason," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said during his conference call when asked about Allen's hot start. "Prior to leaving for the offseason, he had talked to me about his approach to the 2011 season and what he wanted to get accomplished. When we talked as the lockout was lifted, I just sensed that this was a guy who was on a mission. He was really disappointed in the way he played last year and our team played. He had such a focus about coming back and having a great year. When you combine that with his talent, I think that's one of the reasons he's gotten off to such a great start. His focus, his attention to being the best, has reinvigorated him."

Allen has feasted against the Packers, with his 10 sacks against Green Bay being the most against any opponent. Of course, 4.5 of those came in the 2009 game at the Metrodome. Like for this week's game, Clifton was out of the lineup, with left guard Daryn Colledge playing out of position at left tackle for most of the game before leaving with an injury and being replaced by then-rookie T.J. Lang.

Newhouse, though, doesn't figure to get rattled. Right guard Josh Sitton joked that Newhouse was "super-nervous, throwing up" before the game.

"He's a confident guy, doesn't get frazzled," Sitton said.

"I don't think he will be (nervous)," Lang said. "Coming in and playing the Atlanta game, that's going against tough opponents and he played very well. Last week, he played very well. We're going to continue doing what we do. He does a great job and we're going to continue to roll the way we're rolling. I don't think it's a surprise to anybody. Watching him play in camp, he opened up a lot of guys' eyes and earned a lot of respect. I don't think you're going to find a guy in this locker room that doesn't feel comfortable with him playing."

Allen wins with more than just speed and strength. It's his Clay Matthews-like never-say-die approach that makes him such trouble.

"Seldom do you see him get knocked down and stay down," center Scott Wells said. "If somebody gets him down, he's right back up. He's explosive off the ball and he plays his technique well. Any time he can get the edge, he gets the edge. If the tackle oversets him, he's quick to get underneath. He's really a well-versed pass rusher and executes the technique well."

With Clifton out for the foreseeable future, Newhouse has a chance to settle in for the next few weeks. A standout left tackle at TCU, Newhouse has bounced around since being a fifth-round pick in 2010. He relieved Bryan Bulaga at right tackle in Week 3, started at right tackle in Week 4 and 5, then slid over to the left side in Week 5 before starting at left tackle in Week 6.

"My part is just making sure he trusts me and there's no letup on his part because he thinks (I'm not Clifton)," Newhouse said. "It's about building that trust and letting him know that I'm there."

In his first four games, Newhouse has earned a measure of trust from Rodgers and the coaches.

"He's done well," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "He's met the challenges that have been placed in front of him up to this point of time. Obviously, Jared Allen is an excellent football player and plays fast. But I'm confident whoever we put out there will be confident and prepared."

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

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