The majority of fans are aware the Green Bay Packers have moved Clay Matthews back to the ride side instead of playing on the left as he did last season. What fans also may not realize is the move is guaranteed to prepare left tackle Marshall Newhouse for the top defenders in the league.
Moving Matthews to the right side will pin him up against the harder of the two tackles for most opposing teams while rookie Nick Perry should get the easier of the two tasks. Since most teams have right-handed quarterbacks, the left tackle is typically the stronger of the two outside offensive lineman. Perry has struggled in the early part of camp but it is nothing out of the ordinary considering he is making the move to a standup defender opposed to lining up as a defensive end. Putting him on the left side should help ease the process of getting familiar with the position.
The one person on the entire team excited about the movie is right tackle Bryan Bulaga who will no longer have to go up against Matthews during practice. When asked if Bulaga would miss going up against Clay he was quick to answer no. The tackle out of Iowa has gone up against the three-time Pro Bowler in the dog days of summer for the past two years and is certainly glad that once the regular season starts Matthews is on his team.
“My rookie year going against Clay in training camp, he got after me for a little while, but slowly you get smarter, stronger and more comfortable with the offense and it starts to feel a little bit better,” Bulaga said. “Definitely last year, it was good to go against Clay every day. Clay really made me a lot better football player.”
Now the Packers are hoping Matthews does the same for Newhouse. The fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft out of TCU has never gone up against an opponent as talented and aggressive as Matthews in the 13 games he has started, but is certainly up for the challenge. Green Bay needs a left tackle to protect the blind side of the best quarterback in the NFL who can take on the best in the world and come out unscathed. After Newhouse goes up against Matthews for the next few weeks, he should be ready to take on anyone in football.
This is not to say Newhouse cannot hold his own on the gridiron, and in fact played very well last season for the injured Chad Clifton. Anytime a player has the confidence of his coach and quarterback should feel good about the way he played.
“My confidence with Marshall grows every time I see him practice and perform,” McCarthy said. “(I think a) pretty good indicator is the quarterback has a lot of confidence in him. Aaron has a lot of confidence, and that’s important, because Aaron is in the huddle. He has a very good feel looking in guys’ eyes during the course of the game.”
With that being said, there is always room for improvement. Green Bay wants Newhouse to become a stone cold blocker who does not give up sacks. The entire offensive line has the privilege to protect the MVP of the league; therefore, they should take pride in not letting him get knocked down. If Aaron Rodgers can stay upright each and every game throughout the season, who knows what kind of damage he can inflict on the league.
That is still over a month away so for now Newhouse must concentrate on his fundamentals and blocking techniques against a hardnosed Matthews who is preparing for a Defensive Player of the Year campaign.