There's no question New York Giants right tackle Marshall Newhouse is considered a weak link on the team's offensive line. He was signed as a free agent last offseason after underperforming as a Cincinnati Bengal in 2014.
The Giants knew that was not the player who had once been a starter for the Green Bay Packers and charged with protecting one of the NFL's most valued assets in Aaron Rodgers. Ben McAdoo, then the Giants' offensive coordinator, sold the team on Newhouse's ability and he was brought in on a flier to see if he could make their roster.
It worked out to the point where Newhouse began getting reps with the starters after Will Beatty was placed on PUP, missing the first half of the season, and then was unable to return. Newhouse ended up starting 14 games for the Giants in 2015.
His performance was not widely praised. He was considered a placeholder at right tackle after the Giants moved rookie Ereck Flowers to left tackle in training camp. Pro Football Focus ranked Newhouse 68th in a field of 77 eligible offensive tackles. Flowers, incidentally was ranked 74th:
This past offseason, the Giants could not procure a replacement for Newhouse in either free agency or the draft. He is still lining up with the "ones" this spring. Flowers is entrenched at left tackle while second-year player Bobby Hart is being groomed to challenge Newhouse on the right side.
The negative vibes are permeating the air at the club's OTAs, but the Giants -- and Newhouse -- are tuning them out. He was asked if it bothers him that a there is a negative connotation when talking about the offensive line these days.
"No," he told reporters Monday. "I'm going into my seventh year so I feel like I am fooling someone really well if I am going into my seventh year and I still can't play. I self-assess harder than anyone can ever criticize me, so whatever has been said or is being said about me, I have thought about it and critiqued it harder than they ever could have. I take that into the offseason, I take that into my improvements and my work ethic going into the season, so there is not anything that throws me off or blows me away anymore after this many years kind of seeing things."
Coaches and players have come to the defense this spring of linemen Newhouse and John Jerry, and all are keeping there fingers crossed for improvement going forward. Last week, left guard Justin Pugh called Newhouse "a great player" who knows the system. Newhouse was asked what his thoughts were about the praise heaped on him by his teammate.
"That is who Justin is, he is a loyal guy and a friend -- I would call him a friend and it has been fun here playing with him," Newhouse said. "He sees day in and day out the type of work we put in and what we go through and the offensive line, usually, have to be our own best advocates because from the outside, there aren't a lot of people who are going to stand up for ourselves if we don't do it ourselves, so it is much appreciated and it goes around to the entire line group. We work our butts off and we play hard."
Newhouse is also benefiting from new offensive line coach Mike Solari, who understands McAdoo's offensive system better than former offensive line coach Pat Flaherty.
"He has been excellent, just great energy, he is a teacher first, very detail oriented and just a great balance," Newhouse said of Solari. "He definitely knows when to pat you on the back and be like, 'Hey, I want you to recognize that was genuinely good and that is what I what to see more of.' Then there are times when he says, 'Hey, I need you to pick it up and this is what you can do differently.' He will give you evidence. He will show you on film, he will give you an example and that is appreciated as a vet. I don't have everything figured out, I am always trying to learn, I'm always trying to get better and my ears are open, my mind is open, so I am very receptive and appreciative of what he has brought so far."
The Giants are beginning to get used to the idea that Newhouse can get the job done for them at right tackle. Considering their options, what choice do they have at this point? The emergence of Hart could push Newhouse back to the bench at some juncture, but with his marked improvement this spring, that could be a ways off now.