Julius Peppers is one of the best defensive linemen of his generation. At age 32 he came in 26th on the NFL Network's NFL 100, fifth best among defensive lineman. He's shown little signs of slowing down since leaving his home state of North Carolina and joining the Chicago Bears, recording 19 sacks over the past two seasons. Trying to contain him this season for the Green Bay Packers will be young left tackle Marshall Newhouse.
Newhouse got his first true taste of the NFL last year after not playing his entire rookie season of 2010, and has had quite a few ups and downs already in his young career. Now with Chad Clifton gone (released in April), Newhouse is probably going to be responsible for going up against some of the best right defensive ends in the game, as he tries to protect the league's best quarterback so that the best offense can operate to its fullest potential.
Newhouse has looked composed in his time in the lineup, but his transition to the starting role might be tough. Clifton was a two-time Pro Bowler who leaves behind big shoes to fill, and 2011 first round pick Derrick Sherrod is waiting just behind Newhouse on the depth chart. That's a lot of pressure for a 23-year-old to be dealing with.
But that 23-year-old has given Packer fans signs of hope. One of his positive moments last year actually came against Peppers on Christmas Day. Newhouse held Peppers to no sacks and showed why he may have the potential to be a starting left tackle in the league, even though he has had trouble against top-notch defensive players for the most part.
Expect Newhouse to have learned a thing or two from his first experience up against Peppers, but don't think for a second that it's not still going to be an extremely difficult battle.
Julius Peppers is one of the best athletes in the NFL and not just among defensive linemen. He's 6'6", 283 pounds, has a recorded 40 time of 4.68, played college basketball at UNC and was a running back and sprinter in high school. As a defensive lineman he can do it all: sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions, you name it. He has 37 forced fumbles over his ten year career, nine fumble recoveries and exactly 100 sacks, which means he's averaging double digits per year. His eight career interceptions are also very impressive for a defensive lineman.
Newhouse, at 6'4" and 319 pounds has a weight advantage on Peppers, but isn't nearly as quick. All things considered, Newhouse is going to have his hands full with the six-time Pro Bowler, but that's life as a starting tackle in the NFL. They're inevitably going to be matched up against some of the best pass-rushers in the league and they will mostly be measured by how they perform in those tough matchups. We'll see if Newhouse can hold his own against Peppers and cement his job at starting left tackle.