Newhouse Embraces Uncertainty

Perhaps nobody took the Thanksgiving loss at Detroit harder than Marshall Newhouse. The Packers won a lot of games and scored a lot of points with Newhouse at left tackle. On Sunday against Atlanta, Newhouse could be an option at three positions.

For most of 2011 and all of 2012, Marshall Newhouse was the Green Bay Packers' starting left tackle. He never was anywhere close to a dominant player, but they won 26 games, two division titles and scored 993 points during those seasons.

Now, Newhouse is a man on the move. After spending the first half of the season seated firmly on the bench, Newhouse played extensively at right tackle for four consecutive games — including two starts. Last week at Detroit, he played right guard in the second half.

And Sunday against Atlanta?

Depending on how the injury report shakes out, he could be starting at left tackle, right tackle or right guard.

His head's got to be swimming.

"It's not that much," Newhouse countered on Thursday. "It's fun to realize that I have the ability athletically to play and mentally to keep up. It's not easy going from one position to another but it just takes reps at every position. I know I have the athletic ability and the awareness to play. It's just a matter of getting the reps in practice."

Fun? With center Evan Dietrich-Smith in doubt because of an injured ankle, it could mean musical chairs with right guard T.J. Lang and right tackle Don Barclay. Then, left tackle David Bakhtiari was ill on Thursday, so Newhouse had to fill in there.

So, really, that uncertainty is fun?

"Yeah, why not?" he said. "I'm not going to be playing football for a long time. I'm going to look back on this in 20, 30 years and be like, ‘Hey, no matter what the outcome was, I played really hard and I enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to it."

Newhouse's optimism seemed out of place considering his admitted struggles since getting back in the action against Chicago in Week 9. Repeating what he's said the past few weeks, offensive line coach James Campen on Thursday said Newhouse "needs to play better."

Consistency has always been Newhouse's major issue. He can play well for 20 consecutive snaps and then make one mistake, with that mistake sometimes snowballing into another mistake or mistakes.

"He gets totally frustrated," Campen said recently, "and starts to think, ‘I've got to do this, I've got to do that.' No. Just do your two or three techniques and you'll be fine."

Moreover, Newhouse is a natural left tackle, due to a skill-set centered on quickness and finesse rather than strength and power. Along with 26 starts at left tackle for the Packers, Newhouse was a three-year starting left tackle at TCU.

"Just from sheer numbers, I've had thousands – literally, thousands – of reps at left tackle," he said. "That's what my body's most comfortable with. As time goes by and I've played more positions, I realize I can get comfortable at those, too. At the moment, yeah, left tackle is the most comfortable."

In a down-and-out locker room after the loss to Detroit, it perhaps was Newhouse who took the loss the hardest. For most of the postgame media session, Newhouse sat in front of his locker — in full pads — with a towel hanging over his head.

A week later, Newhouse and his teammates have moved on.

"The break was good for everybody," he said. "That was a tough game. I've been playing for a long time and had a lot of success in college and my four years here in Green Bay. A game like that, it's tough on everybody. I take it probably too hard. I should probably let a lot of it go but that's just who I am. After the game, at that moment, you're a little emotional. I care a lot and I know we'll bounce back."


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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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