Newhouse has been here before

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 Andre Smith's torn tricep has brought on Marshall Newhouse.

Talk about a small world.

For five years the Bengals backup tackle for either side was the reliable Anthony Collins. When he signed a five-year, $30 million deal after 25 starts in four playoff runs to become the left tackle in Tampa Bay, the Bengals went hunting for more experience to back up Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth and felt fortunate to emerge with Marshall Newhouse's 31 NFL starts when his deal expired in Green Bay.

So, naturally, on Sunday the Bengals play in Tampa (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) and instead of Collins playing for the injured Smith, it is Newhouse.

And he has been here before.

In fact, he made two starts last year for a Packers team that had a tie and still won the NFC North. And in the two years before that he started 29 of 32 games for a Packers team that won two more division crowns with 25 victories.

So now that he's been tapped to start the last five games of the season at right tackle, it's not his first rodeo.

"All we have is our past experiences to go on. I feel like I contributed to a lot fo intense situations and adverse situations, winning and losing, all that stuff," Newhouse said after Wednesday's practice. "There's not much that can be thrown at me I don't feel I'm prepared for. 

"Being in these games where there are tight races and divisions and wild cards and playoffs and all that stuff, I'm just approaching this game where there's a lot on the line. We're in a good position. We kind of have to control what we can control."

Best known around these parts as the guy that protected Andy Dalton's young blind side at Texas Christian, Newhouse found what he was looking for when he met with Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander in March.

"A lot of guys at any position it's about the situation. You see guys, so and so, they're not good at one place and they thrive at another place," Newhouse said. "As soon as you get the right fit, the right coaching, the right scheme, whatever because there are so many variables that go into being a successful player in the NFL other than talent. Talent is obviously the majority of it but being in the right fit, the right situation is huge.

"He'll break down the people you're going against and it's very detail-oriented," Newhouse said of Alexander. "There's a way, his way, to do it and he's been around a while and his way works. It's about buying in and making sure you're sound."

Newhouse has been better each time out. He struggled in his first Bengals start against Cleveland on Nov. 6, but in the last two games has been part of superb offensive line play that has allowed just one sack in the hostile environments of Houston and New Orleans while racking up a combined 325 rushing yards. And against the formidable J.J. Watt, he didn't allow a sack and, according to profootballfocus.com, gave up just two QB hits to a guy on pace for a record 50 hits this season.

Small world? Profoobtallfocus.com has Newhouse rated higher than Collins in their rankings (63-66) of tackles.   

"They tried to put J.J. on Marshall a lot more than normal, and he did a good job. That's the way it is week in and week out in the NFL," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "Marshall's played a lot of football. He was a starting player with the Packers, he's played a lot of football there over the years, and that's why he's here to be able to fill in when an opportunity like this occurs, and he's done a good job of it so far."

And there can be no questioning his toughness. Not after he took a finger from Watt in his left eye and missed just a play despite blurred vision and a blood-shot eye. He said he could see about 70 percent by the time he went back in, but wouldn't elaborate on what the eye doctor told him Monday.

"I'll leave it at that.  But it's going to be OK. I can play a football game. I'm all right," said Newhouse, who may play Sunday with a visor. "It's a little better. It's still sore. It's unfortunate. It's just a freak thing. Luckily, it could have been way, way worse. That's outside football. I'm fortunate enough it wasn't too bad."

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