WASHINGTON -- The $6 million man played like one yesterday.
Linebacker Wilber Marshall, who cost the Washington Redskins $6 million when he signed with them as a free agent from the Chicago Bears in 1988, spent the past two years rarely getting noticed. He made a lot of tackles but few spectacular plays.
His standard comment was that he was just playing the defense he was assigned to play.
But yesterday he was noticed in the Redskins' 31-0 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals. He got a sack, batted down a pass and caused a fumble to help the defense get the shutout.
"I'm starting to feel the confidence of the people who are around me. It took me two or three years when I was in Chicago. I just feel more comfortable," he said.
When he was asked about a recent suggestion by former quarterback Doug Williams in an ESPN interview that he was unhappy in Washington, he said: "I think that was misunderstood. I think he said frustrated. I don't think he said unhappy."
He added: "I'm used to making plays. It's tough now. I'm getting used to the calls and getting used to where everybody is [on defense]. I can make more plays for the team. That's what I'm here for, not just to come up here to suck up some money and get out. I want to get better."
He said he still won't be a player who makes a lot of sacks because he plays the run a lot.
But he would like to make it back to the Pro Bowl after missing it his first two years in Washington.
"I'm not going to sit on this. I've got a place that I want to be at," he said.
Marshall got dinged in the head in the third quarter, but he shook it off and said he was fine after the game.
*Cornerback Martin Mayhew, who intercepted two passes, knows he is likely to be a target this year because Darrell Green is on the other side.
"I expect to get a lot of throws this year," he said. "That's going to be good. The more throws, the more opportunities."
Mayhew said on his second interception, he read the route because the Cardinals had used it in the exhibition season.
He also gave the defensive line credit. "They had him scrambling around pretty good. I think that was the key to us getting four interceptions," he said.
*Tracy Rocker, in his second year as a defensive tackle, said he could understand how the Redskins were taking advantage of the inexperience of quarterback Timm Rosenbach.
"They took advantage of me last year," he said with a smile. "I think going into the game, everybody knew, 'Hey, the guy hasn't been behind the center a lot,' and he was known to take it down and run it a lot," Rocker said.
The Redskins sacked Rosenbach three times and forced him out of the pocket a lot.
Safety Alvin Walton, who ran an interception back for a touchdown, said, "The defensive line stayed in his face the whole game."
*Charley Casserly, the Washington general manager, said the Cleveland Browns sent him a letter about 10 days ago telling him he no longer has permission to talk with the agent for cornerback Frank Minnifield, Stan White.
"They accused of us of interfering with their trade [of Minnifield to Atlanta for Bill Fralic]. I threw the thing in the garbage. It was a piece of garbage. All it was doing was passing a message to their agent because I haven't talked to him or the Browns since the Monday after our exhibition game [Aug. 26] against the Browns. It was a negotiating tool for the Browns with the agent," Casserly said.
The trade with Fralic collapsed when Minnifield didn't come to terms with the Browns, and he is still holding out.
*The Redskins came out with two injuries. Darrell Green suffered a bruised hip and Fred Stokes a bruised shoulder.
The shoulder has bothered Stokes all during camp, and this was the first time he played. It popped out again a couple of times, and the Redskins will try a different way of taping it.