Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has had little trouble sacking quarterbacks this season.
And Green Bay left tackle Marshall Newhouse is looking forward to getting another chance to try to slow down Allen on Monday night when the Packers host Minnesota.
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”He has great effort and has a very high motor, and you can’t relax for one second,” Newhouse said. ”He takes advantage of guys who do.”
Allen goes into the matchup of NFC North rivals with an NFL-best 12 1/2 sacks. Two came against Newhouse and the Packers.
Newhouse was making his second pro start at left tackle for an injured Chad Clifton in that game, a 33-27 Green Bay win on Oct. 23. He has since been playing well after some early struggles against Allen in the noisy Metrodome.
”Being in a hostile environment, I knew I’d have to play above and beyond,” Newhouse said. ”Obviously, I want some plays back, but you don’t look in the past. You look forward, you move on, and you get better.”
Newhouse’s coaches feel the second-year player is better prepared for Allen as the Packers get ready to play a game at Lambeau Field for the first time in nearly a month.
Allen’s sacks in the teams’ first meeting came on back-to-back series for Green Bay in the first half. The first was on a speed rush past Newhouse and the second when Newhouse was looking to break out on a called screen pass that never materialized.
Since then, Newhouse hasn’t allowed a sack.
”Marshall’s clearly a better player today than he was a couple weeks ago, just from experience,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. ”He has extra time to get ready for Jared Allen. He has a game under his belt on their turf. That’s a challenge and that’s an experience he can draw from.”
After the initial flurry by Allen, McCarthy gave Newhouse some help on occasion with an extra blocker on his side.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked four times in the game, still completed 24 of 30 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for a season-high passer rating of 146.5.
Rodgers feels better about going against Allen a second time with Newhouse as his blind-side protector.
”It’s a tough challenge, but he’s not going to be alone,” Rodgers said of Newhouse. ”We’re going to make sure that we’ve got a presence over there and make sure we find ways to slow (Allen) down a little bit and change the rush angles on him. He’s a great player; he’s going to be coming all game.”
Allen’s 12 sacks in eight games against the Packers are his most against any team – and 11 1/2 of those have come against Rodgers since his debut season as Green Bay’s starter in 2008, which also was Allen’s first year with Minnesota.
Offensive line coach James Campen said Newhouse will be more technically sound in facing Allen a second time.
”You’re not going to get it all in one game against Jared Allen, but certainly there’s things he can work on,” Campen said.
”He expects himself to play better,” Campen added. ”I’m sure he’s excited for the opportunity. I know he is. But hey for a lineman, whether it’s on Monday Night Football or it’s at 2:30 in the morning in a parking lot, they have a lot of pride and they want to win the battle. And certainly he’s expecting to perform better.”
Notes: DE Mike Neal (knee) practiced on a limited basis Friday for the second straight day. Neal hasn’t been ruled out from making his season debut Monday. But McCarthy indicated Neal, who had surgery Sept. 13, would need more practice time before he’s cleared to play. ”I think you have to really increase his activity yet at practice to get to the point where we feel he’s ready for a game,” McCarthy said. … LB Clay Matthews (knee) practiced Friday on a limited basis after being out the previous day.