The last time Marshall Newhouse played a significant number of game snaps at guard, he was in high school. And Geno Atkins most assuredly was not across from him on the line of scrimmage.
But when Brett Jones left the game with a calf injury after the first drive in the Giants’ 21-20 victory over the Bengals on Monday night at MetLife Stadium, Newhouse found himself in that foreign position against the All-Pro defensive tackle. After a stretch of season in which Newhouse was sidelined with his own calf injury and returned to learn he’d lost his starting job at right tackle, the veteran finally was able to contribute in a meaningful way again.
“I feel like I have value here,” Newhouse said. “Hopefully, I showed it today.”
Newhouse took a few snaps at guard during the week in practice, but when it looked as if Jones was going to have to leave the game, he didn’t wait to be asked to play. Instead, he started warming up on the sideline. The Giants had several other options, and they discussed them, but ultimately settled on Newhouse at left guard despite his inexperience at the position.
“We thought [Newhouse] was going to be the first guy in for us, didn’t matter what position it was,” Ben McAdoo said. “He has a lot of experience under his belt and it showed.”
A lot of flexibility, too, it turned out. Newhouse also took snaps at tight end in the role he came into the game expecting to play. Every so often, then, he would report as an eligible receiver — guard-eligible, in this case, not tackle-eligible — and slide outside. Adam Gettis then would replace him at left guard. Because of the rules regarding eligible linemen, Newhouse would have to leave the field for a snap after those plays before returning to guard.
“Man, that was crazy,” Newhouse said. “They had to keep reminding me [to come off the field]. That was interesting.”
Jones started at guard in place of Justin Pugh, who hurt his knee last week. His first career start lasted only eight snaps before he left with his calf injury.
Newhouse wasn’t perfect. Neither was the offensive line. Atkins had several big hits on Eli Manning and the Giants struggled to run the ball for most of the first three quarters — though they did so without any negative runs. In the fourth quarter, though, they finally were able to break through.
Rashad Jennings had runs of 24 and 25 yards to account for the bulk of his season-high 87 yards and the Giants, who had not rushed for 80 yards in any of the previous five games, ran for a season-high 122.
Newhouse certainly had a hand in that success — from various angles.
“I’ve flipped sides in the middle of a game before, gone from right tackle to left tackle,” he said. “But I’ve never gone from being ready for tackle to playing guard and also being ready to play tight end at the same time. That was very different. I’m not going to say it’s a whirlwind because I feel like I held my own, but it was not easy.”