GREEN BAY – Although the competition has scarcely started, Marshall Newhouse – the lone Green Bay Packers offensive lineman in a genuine battle to keep his starting job – is already feeling comfortable in to his new spot on the opposite end of the line.
After starting 28 games the past two years (including playoffs) at left tackle, Newhouse was part of – and, he acknowledges, the impetus for – coach Mike McCarthy’s line shakeup, which began on the first day of on-field workouts this offseason and continued through Sunday’s first practice of camp in full pads.
While left tackle Bryan Bulaga, left guard Josh Sitton and right guard T.J. Lang are entrenched as starters at their spots – and so is center Evan Dietrich-Smith, for that matter – Newhouse is the one lineman who’ll be challenged for his job. Although his current primary competition, second-year man Don Barclay, has been working at both right tackle and center, Barclay did start six games last year at right tackle and will have a chance to win the job.
Another option would be 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod, whom McCarthy said Sunday could be at his “last hurdle” before returning to the field for the first time since breaking both bones in his lower right leg at Kansas City in December 2011.
For now, though, it’s been Newhouse with the 1s, and he doesn’t plan on giving the coaches any reason to alter that plan.
“I feel really comfortable. I feel like I can go out there and play right now,” said Newhouse, who did play right tackle in spot duty in 2011. “But there’s things you just work through during camp, and that’s what you use camp for, is just to work through inconsistencies and all that stuff. And you try stuff out in camp, so I’m going to use this time to do that.
“They made that clear (that there would be competition), but there’s no reason to dwell on that. I understand that’s what they’ve decided to do, but I’m just going to go out there and kind of take care of my business.”
Newhouse said he knew even before the coaches decided to move him that he needed to improve his strength and technique. While he was up-and-down in pass protection at times – he finished the season having given up nine sacks, eight quarterback hits and 37 quarterback pressures in 1,256 snaps according to ProFootballFocus.com – he said his run blocking needed to improve the most. But he also said he didn’t need the extra motivation of having his job security threatened.
“Before they ever made the switch, coming into the offseason, I had that mindset anyway. I knew I needed to improve from last season,” Newhouse said. “It wasn’t like them moving me was that much of a kick in the pants. It was a surprise, but I already was in mindset of I need to get better and develop some more strength. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
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