CB Richard Marshall solid in first start

SAN DIEGO – Mike McCoy finally revealed the winner of this week's cornerback competition when Richard Marshall was announced as the San Diego Chargers' starting cornerback opposite Shareece Wright on Sunday.

The move wasn't much of a surprise because Marshall replaced starter Derek Cox last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Marshall, 28, signed with the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 23 after the cornerback-needy Miami Dolphins cut him during training camp. Marshall will make $840,000 in base salary this season on a one-year deal.

And 12 games into the season, the Fresno State product is San Diego's choice to start at cornerback over the team's top free agent acquisition, Cox, who will make $6 million in total compensation this season.

Sunday was Marshall's first start since last season, when he started four games for the Dolphins. He was solid, missing a couple tackles on quick screens, but breaking up a potential touchdown pass to Cincinnati receiver Marvin Jones in the end zone in the second half.

Marshall finished with eight tackles against the Bengals.

"I think I played well," Marshall said. "Of course, there's some things I can clean up, like the first tackle I missed (a 9-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu), I can't miss that. We'll go back in and watch film tomorrow, and I'll correct the mistakes that I had. But for the most part I feel like I came out competed and played well.

"I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to come out here and play, so I just tried to give it my all."

An eight-year pro, Marshall spent time in Carolina, Arizona and Miami. And he played two seasons for San Diego secondary coach Ron Milus while with the Panthers in 2009-10.

San Diego linebacker Reggie Walker was a teammate of Marshall's in Arizona in 2011. He's not surprised by Marshall's competitive nature.

"He's a real hard worker," Walker said about Marshall. "He just wants to win and do what's best for the team."

A.J. Green's touchdown chalked up to busted coverage: Usually the best receiver on the field doesn't run free down the middle of the field for an easy score.

But on second and eight from San Diego's 21-yard line, that's what happened. Green shook loose because of a bust coverage and Andy Dalton found him for the winning score with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter. Watch the play here.

So what happened? The Chargers were in zone on the play against Cincinnati's bunch formation, and linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te'o appeared to get crossed up in their responsibilities.

"We had Cover 2 on that side," San Diego safety Eric Weddle said. "We've got to have a carry player between Manti and Donald. And it just goes back to communicating and making sure everyone's on the same page. Obviously when someone is not, the guy's wide open for a touchdown."

McCoy's decision-making questioned again: Arm-chair quarterbacks questioned two decisions made by McCoy in his team's loss to Cincinnati.

The first was McCoy's decision to punt rather than attempt what would have been a 56-yard field goal for Nick Novak in the fourth quarter with 12:51 left.

Instead, Mike Scifres punted the ball to Cincinnati's 10-yard line.

"I'm doing what I think is best for the football team, looking at what the down and distance is, what the situation of the game is," McCoy said. "All of those things come into consideration. We have a starting point for where we want him [Novak] to kick a field goal, every game in each direction. And if we're outside that in a certain down and distance, we're not going to do it.

On Cincinnati's ensuing drive, the Chargers stuffed BenJarvus Green-Ellis for no gain. But holding on guard Mike Pollak was called on the play.

Rather than take the play, McCoy took the penalty, moving Cincinnati back half the distance to the goal line to the 5-yard line, and giving the Bengals an extra down. And on third and two from Cincinnati's 18-yard line, Andy Dalton hit Andrew Hawkins in stride on a slant route for a 50-yard gain. The Bengals settled for a Mike Nugent 46-yard field goal to take a 17-7 lead with 9:20 left.

"With the down and distance, I thought that was the best thing for our football team right there," McCoy said, when asked why he accepted the penalty.