GREEN BAY – Marshall Newhouse was not perfect last season – far from it.
But if someone had told Aaron Rodgers before the 2011 season that he would lose veteran left tackle Chad Clifton to hamstring and back injuries, have Newhouse protecting his blind side after not playing a single snap as a rookie last season – and the offense would put up the second-most points in NFL history while he won the MVP, the Green Bay Packers quarterback probably wouldn’t have believed it.
“Starting the season out, I didn’t look at Marshall the way I look at him now,” Rodgers admitted on his weekly radio show on ESPN Milwaukee and ESPN Madison late in the season. “I look at him now as a guy who really has a strong legitimate chance to be the left tackle of the future. I think he has the personality makeup to do that, the athletic ability to do that, the feet and the smarts to be a very, very solid left tackle for us.”
The Packers had better hope he does.
With 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod still recovering from a horrifying broken leg suffered in December, Newhouse will open training camp on Thursday as the team’s starting left tackle following the offseason release of Clifton.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Newhouse played 966 snaps last season, 617 in pass protection. He was charged with nine sacks allowed, eight quarterback hits and a whopping 41 quarterback pressures, so there is plenty of room for him to improve.
Newhouse, a 2010 fifth-round pick from Texas Christian, essentially redshirted as a rookie, not playing a single regular-season snap before landing on injured reserve with a back injury suffered in practice in late December. With the offseason wiped out by labor unrest, Newhouse missed the valuable work he would have gotten in the team’s strength and conditioning program, organized team activity practices and minicamp.
Nevertheless, it was evident in training camp that he returned as a vastly different player than he’d been as a rookie. He reshaped his body with an intense workout regimen at home in Dallas, and his technique improved significantly as well.
The issue for Newhouse, who was actually filling in at right tackle for an injured Bryan Bulaga when Clifton went down against Atlanta on Oct. 9, was his inconsistency. At Detroit on Thanksgiving, he didn’t allow a sack, hit or pressure against Kyle Vanden Bosch; the following week against the New York Giants and Jason Pierre-Paul, he gave up one sack, three hits and five pressures. Against Kansas City’s Tamba Hali on Dec. 18, he was charged with one sack and five pressures in the Packers’ lone loss of the season; then on Christmas night, he shut down Chicago’s Julius Peppers.
“The thing about him, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice,” Campen said. “He’s been up and down a little bit in games with single plays – a sack, or two sacks – but those things don’t always show the whole picture of what his development is. He came into camp with a purpose, he worked his tail off in the offseason during the lockout, and it’s shown on film. He’s just a very smart kid that just doesn’t make the same mistake twice.”
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There are no games scheduled for today.