2014 free-agent countdown
20. Chris Banjo, safety
19. Seneca Wallace, quarterback
18. Kahlil Bell, running back
17. Robert Francois, inside linebacker
16. Marshall Newhouse, offensive lineman
When the Green Bay Packers hit rock bottom on Thanksgiving, so did Marshall Newhouse.
Following an embarrassing 40-10 loss to Detroit, the Packers’ fourth-year offensive lineman sat motionless inside his Ford Field locker, his pads still on his shoulders and towel draped over his head.
A few hours earlier, Newhouse had been called into action when center Evan Dietrich-Smith was carted off with a knee injury. For whatever reason, the Packers played Newhouse at right guard instead of his natural spot at tackle.
It was a disaster. Ndamukong Suh imposed his will on Newhouse and the Packers’ altered interior line with his third-quarter sack of backup quarterback Matt Flynn in the end zone for a safety only adding insult to a litany of injuries.
It wasn’t completely Newhouse’s fault. After all, he hadn’t even taken any reps at guard during a shortened practice week. It did, however, illustrate a season of frustration for the 2010 fifth-round pick.
The Packers had more pressing issues than deciphering what happened to their swing tackle, but Newhouse’s struggles were as perplexing as any.
As the starting left tackle, Newhouse was the only offensive player not to miss a snap in 2012, but he never found rhythm after losing out on a starting opportunity in training camp.
When he did play, he was inconsistent. In allowing two sacks, four quarterback hits and 12 hurries in 139 pass-blocking snaps, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second-least effective pass blocker in the NFL (with a minimum of 100 pass-blocking snaps).
So he watched rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari start all 16 games at his previous left tackle spot, while second-year pro Don Barclay started 14 games on the opposite side.
“As far as Marshall, he’s always been a headstrong guy, and I expect him to battle back from things,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “I’ll say this about him: You’re a 30-game starter, then all of a sudden you’re a backup. Nothing but compliments for him the way that he handled it, the way that he helped David, that he helped Donny, that he helped everyone, and he was a true professional through the process.
“There was never a time where he pouted. I mean he was upset of course, like anybody would be but he handled it in true professional manner, and I appreciate that.”
Newhouse’s up-and-down season might be his last in Green Bay. Every cent matters with 17 unrestricted free agents and there are cheaper backup options than Newhouse, who made $1.3 million this past season.
Plus, the Packers already have 12 offensive linemen under contract for next season and a pair of former first-rounders, Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, to re-insert in the offense.
So Newhouse waits for the next opportunity. He had his moments in Green Bay, but acknowledges his next paycheck might come elsewhere in the NFL.
His job now is to show there’s more to his game than what showed during an inconsistent 2013.
“It’s hard to keep a core group of good players, you try to keep it in perspective and let that not be in your thinking after a loss,” said Newhouse after Green Bay’s 23-20 playoff loss to San Francisco earlier this month.
“That’ll happen days, weeks, months down the road. Right now, we feel like we were just a play away from being right there.”
Editor's note: Over the next three weeks, Press-Gazette Media will count down the top 20 unrestricted, restricted and exclusive right free agents the Green Bay Packers will have to decide on this offseason.
No. 16 Marshall Newhouse, four-year veteran offensive lineman
The skinny: Unrestricted free agent.
The snaps: 321 total snaps (245 offense, 76 special teams).
The stats: 2 sacks, 4 hits allowed, 18 pressures on 139 pass-blocking snaps.
The 2013 salary: $1.323 million.
* Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.
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