While it appears Dietrich-Smith will make the start, Barclay will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go, Newhouse, the team’s starting left tackle the past two seasons, will get the nod. Newhouse admitted his play wasn’t up to snuff in either of the past two games, and the topic left his coaches perturbed.
“I’m not going to sit here and critique a guy and tell everyone what his problems were,” Clements replied when asked about Newhouse. “I mean, he played well at times. He can improve and if you want any more on that you can ask Marshall.”
Said McCarthy: “I’ve always viewed Marshall Newhouse as a starter, no different today than in training camp coming out. When Don Barclay won the job, I’ve always felt Marshall was deserving of being a starter as far as his level of play, so we won’t change anything.”
But the bottom line is against one of the league’s top front fours, Newhouse will have to play better than he has if Barclay, who didn’t take a single snap in practice all week, can’t go. According to Pro Football Focus, Newhouse has given up two sacks and three pressures in 71 snaps the past two weeks, and historically, he has struggled against the Giants on the road.
In last year’s loss at MetLife Stadium, Pro Football Focus had him for one sack, one quarterback hit and five hurries. In the Packers’ 2011 regular-season victory there, Pro Football Focus charged him with one sack, three hits and five hurries in 81 snaps.
Newhouse was solid in the playoff loss to the Giants following the 2011 season, coming in for an ineffective Chad Clifton and giving up only one sack and two hurries in 42 snaps. Having faced primarily Jason Pierre-Paul at left tackle, Newhouse figures to see more of Justin Tuck in this game.
“It’s never ideal when anyone gets an injury, obviously. You’d obviously prefer to stay with the same guys. It’s shuffling but they just move and slide over and bump over and progress on,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “(Newhouse) had the sack (against the Eagles), I know he wish he had that play back. And he had a couple plays he needed to finish better. But Marshall’s a pro and he did struggle, he recognized that.
“If he’s called upon to play this game I expect him to play at a high level, I expect him to outperform his two outings.”
The Packers have to hope so, since 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod has been activated to the 53-man roster but probably hasn’t gotten enough padded work in practice to be ready to play in a game after a nearly two-year layoff.
“That’s a fair question. You’d love to get three in a row padded practices and get a couple weeks of that,” Campen replied when asked what’s realistic for Sherrod. “But unfortunately in this business – he’s on the active roster for a reason and if called upon he’s going to be expected to go in there and compete. Is it going to take five more padded practices, or 10 more? Hell, I don’t know that. But I do know the kid, and the kid has busted his ass.”
He’s the one: Speaking of effort, it appears rookie first-round pick Datone Jones is coming around. With two sacks against Philadelphia, he has three on the season, all in the past two weeks. (Pro Football Focus has him for four sacks, having credited him with one against Cincinnati.) After a training-camp ankle injury stunted some of his growth after a strong offseason, Jones appears to be settling into his situational role and making the most of limited snaps.
Jones hasn’t played more than 25 snaps in a game this season, and he played only 18 against Chicago and 19 against Philadelphia. That’s been an adjustment for a guy who played 60 to 70 snaps per game in college at UCLA.
“Eighty, sometimes,” Jones said this week. “It’s pretty much like my freshman year at UCLA. It was the same thing there. Eventually, I got to start at the end of the year but initially I had to sit back and learn from the older guys and see some of the things that they were doing. It was never a case where I wasn’t athletic or strong enough to play. It’s the process of learning and really understanding so the games will slow down for you.
“I’ve had to get used to that again, coming off the bench and giving it my all on that one play because I might not get another play for another series or two. I’ve had to get that in my mindset, that whenever I come on the field, it has to be a thousand percent.”
Jones has seldom seen action in the base defense, instead working in tandem with Mike Daniels as one of the two down linemen in nickel or dime situations. But defensive line coach Mike Trgovac sees progress since the ankle injury – and wants to see the progress continue.
“He’s inside as the 3(-technique), predominantly he’s playing in nickel,” Trgovac said. “I thought he picked up his game a couple weeks ago, then ehhhhhhh. Then last week, I thought he picked up his game again.
“Anytime a D-lineman has an ankle, that’s a big issue because that’s where they push off. When you’re trying to push off 295, 300 pounds on an ankle like that, it’s hard. It’s hard to move that big body like that. He never complained. That’s a credit to him. He never used it as an excuse. But I could see he wasn’t as quick twitch. He’s starting to get that back now.”
Bo knows football – sort of: With Jermichael Finley on season-ending injured reserve and facing an uncertain future – with the Packers and in the game itself – after suffering a bruised spinal cord Oct. 20 and undergoing spinal fusion surgery Thursday, the Packers are looking for a pass-catching tight end to fill the void, both in the short term and the long term, since Finley’s contract is expiring. With a 22-yard touchdown catch and three receptions for 42 yards against Philadelphia, could first-year man Brandon Bostick be that guy?
Well, um, not so fast.
“He did some things well, needs to work on some other things,” was offensive coordinator Tom Clements’ not-so-glowing assessment.
Even though Bostick bears some resemblance to Finley in terms of his athleticism and size, he came from tiny Newberry College and has a long way to go, as tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot made clear. While the team likes his potential, his production against the Eagles shouldn’t mask his deficiencies.
“We’ve known what kind of talent he is, as far as athletically, and just being able to put it together in the right situation, at the right time (was good),” Fontenot said. “He got an opportunity on the ball and he made a good catch and got the ball in the end zone. Nothing more than that. He did what we expected him to do based on the way the play worked out.
“Outside of that, I think it was just a step in the right direction. I wouldn’t call it a breakout game.”
That said, if Bostick can deliver that kind of production every week, it would certainly help the offense.
“I think Brandon knows, and I’ve made it a point, that his overall performance needs to improve,” Fontenot said. “That (touchdown) was a good play. Great, let’s learn from it and let’s move forward. So, that was a small success in a body of work that needs improvement overall.”