Marsh catching eyes in star-studded secondary

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Marsh catching eyes in star-studded secondary

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- If Asante Samuel, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha are Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, then maybe Curtis Marsh can be Vance Worley.

Marsh is the Eagles rookie cornerback from Utah State, and playing in a secondary crammed with Pro Bowl corners, hes finding a way to get people's attention.

Marsh has been one of the biggest surprises of Eagles training camp. After converting from tailback to cornerback just two years ago, he was supposed to be a raw talent. A long-range project.

Thats not what weve seen so far.

Hes not a long-range anything, this kid can play, Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said. Hes a good cornerback.

Marsh said he never considered himself a project, despite playing tailback his first two years at Utah State. He arrived at Lehigh ready to compete, and hes done exactly that.

No matter how many Pro Bowlers are ahead of him on the depth chart.

I dont see myself as a project at all, he said. My position coach Corey Raymond did a great job in college of preparing me for this, and I feel like last year, as a corner, I was a good corner. And I did only play the position for two years, but ... I feel very comfortable at it.

Raymond, who spent six years in the NFL with the Giants and Lions, said Marsh was a polished corner as soon as he made the switch.

His coaches in high school did a great job with Curtis, and as soon as he moved over to corner with us, he was ready to go, Raymond said from Lincoln, Neb., where hes now secondary coach on Bo Pelinis Nebraska staff. He didnt have any bad habits, so it was easy for him to make the transition.

Maybe youre wondering where Marsh fits in on a defense with three superstar corners, plus Joselio Hanson, a seven-year veteran, and Trevard Lindley, who got considerable playing time as a rookie last year.

Marsh isnt wondering.

Getting lost in the shuffle is the last thing on his mind.

I'm not afraid of that, he said. Im just here to play and Im here to compete. Im so blessed and privileged to be sitting behind these guys and learning from these guys. I have time to develop and eventually be a starter like these guys, but Im just trying to get better, trying to compete and trying to learn the best that I can right now.

They drafted me because they believed in me. They wanted me to step in and be the guy for this team. Whenever that is, I'll be ready. For now, I'm in the best position possible, and I don't worry about if I was on another team that didn't have great corners what position Id be in. Because Im with what I feel is the best team for me.

At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Marsh has good size. His college position coach, Raymond, spent six seasons in the NFL in the 1990s, so Marsh was prepared for the NFL game when he got here. Hes smart, polished, athletic.

Anything but a project.

Marsh has been so impressive these first two weeks of training camp, he even earned some first-team reps in nickel this past week.

When Im on the field with Asante or with DRC Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi, guys like that, and Im out there with Trent Cole and those guys, I have to step my game up because these guys are Pro Bowlers and these guys have been doing it, he said. Theyre putting me out there, theyre confident in me. I feel like I have to step my game up.

Instead of worrying about getting left out or caught up in the numbers, Marsh looks at his situation as a great opportunity.

How can you not get better as a young cornerback when you have Samuel, Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha -- with eight combined Pro Bowls -- to learn from on the field, in the film room and in the locker room?

Nnamdi is real, real patient at the line, Marsh said. Just crazy athlete, and he's been able to teach me a lot of patience. Asante, he sees the routes. So its like you use your instincts, and he's been helping me use my instincts to jump routes. And I kind of feel like DRC is a mix between both, but I also feel like his body and the way he plays is the most similar to me. So I've learned a lot from DRC -- I sit next to him, and he's been giving me a lot of pointers.

Its great. Theyre all different styles of corners, and I feel like I have an opportunity to take a piece of each persons game and put it into mine every day.

Its great, because when those guys tell me youre doing good -- You look good out there, rook -- that feels great. These guys are Pro Bowlers, they've done it before, and they think that Im good. I just try to elevate my game and compete every day.

Marsh and the Eagles 22 other rookies will play in their first NFL game on Thursday, when the Eagles open the preseason with a 7:30 p.m. game against John Harbaughs Ravens at the Linc.

I get nervous before every game, so I imagine I'll be nervous, he said. I'll play as hard as I can. The NFL's been my dream since I can remember, so it's going to be an amazing experience. I know that for a fact.

Weve all seen cornerbacks -- and guys at every position -- who look smooth and smart and fast and athletic at practice but dont carry it over to the games. Their careers dont last long. So Thursday will be an important step for Marsh. Hes already got the coaches attention. Can he keep it?

I have to prove myself to these vets, that Im willing to work hard and Im not going to shy away from anything, Marsh said. Im doing anything that I can to help the team win.

I feel pretty good about where Im at right now. But theres so much to learn and Im in a great position to do it.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts

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Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts

As the Western Conference Finals are taking place in Oakland, the Sixers are looking for new talent of their own in California.

This week, members of the Sixers' front office are attending pre-draft workouts organized through multiple agencies, including BDA Sports Management, CAA Sports, Landmark Sports Agency, Octagon and Wasserman Media Group.

While the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, these workouts are opportunities for them to evaluate players that could be fits for their 24th and 26th selections.

On Thursday, the list of workout participants included projected first-rounders Deyonta Davis (Michigan State) and Cheik Diallo (Kansas), according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

The scouting process takes NBA teams coast to coast. Earlier this week, the Sixers reportedly attended a private workout with Excel Sports Management in New York City, in which Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray participated.

The Sixers have held two workouts at their own practice facility, bringing in a total of 12 prospects thus far.

As the draft nears, 57 early-entry candidates withdrew their names from the 2016 draft.

NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination

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NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- "We ain't going home! We're not going home!" Stephen Curry screamed at the top of his lungs.

No, his Golden State Warriors are going back to Oklahoma City, after keeping their title reign and the winningest season in NBA history alive for at least one more game.

Curry scored 31 points, raising his arms in the early moments to fire up Golden State's raucous crowd, and the defending champions staved off elimination with a 120-111 victory over the Thunder on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

"We just did what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to win at home," Curry said. "We know what we still have to do going forward. ... We knew if we didn't win we were going home. There's no other motivation you need."

For all the speculation about the current state of Curry's beat-up body -- that troublesome ankle, sore knee or tender elbow -- he did it all.

"I thought he looked like 91 percent," coach Steve Kerr cracked. "He came out and played a really good game. That's all I can tell you. He's going to compete every night. He had an excellent night and helped us get it done."

Led by Curry, the Warriors looked like their old winning selves again.

The MVP made a snazzy layup late and dished out six assists, while Klay Thompson added 27 points as Golden State sent the best the best-of-seven series back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night. The Warriors trail 3-2 and are trying to become just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit.

"None of us want to go home," Thompson said. "We're having too much fun out there."

Kevin Durant scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals for the Thunder, trying for the fifth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and first championship since moving from Seattle.

The record-setting, 73-win Warriors, coming off their first back-to-back defeats all season, had been blown out in two losses at Oklahoma City by a combined 52 points.

"We have to take that game and travel," Curry said of keeping momentum.

Durant's 3-pointer with 4:34 left got the Thunder within 103-98, then Curry answered with a three-point play.

Curry scored seven points in a 58-second stretch of the second quarter and hit more big shots late, but the Thunder didn't go away easily.

"I liked our will, I liked our fight," Kerr said. "We were embarrassed in OKC the last couple games."

Trailing 58-50 at halftime, Oklahoma City came out of the break with a 9-2 run. Westbrook's 3-pointer with 6:06 left in the third put Oklahoma City ahead 68-67 for its first lead of the night. But Golden State led 81-77 going into the fourth and began the final period with an 8-0 burst.

"We didn't shoot a particularly good percentage when we got into the lane and got into the deep paint," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "We had our opportunities."

Curry shot 9 for 20 and also had five steals, while Thompson had his 11th 20-point game for the second straight postseason despite shooting 2 for 9 from 3-point range. After struggling the past two games, Draymond Green had 11 points and 13 rebounds a day after receiving some encouraging words from Kobe Bryant on the phone.

"We really relied on the entire team tonight, which is when we're at our best," Curry said.

Kerr figured his Warriors might have an edge against the percentages of teams having trailed 3-1 because they're the defending champs and were playing at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable.

He wasn't surprised to see this team respond so well.

"We played with great desperation," Kerr said. "I knew how we would play. This is a championship team."

Kerr called for center Andrew Bogut to do more and the 7-footer delivered with a playoff career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double this postseason and seventh of his career.

Marreese Speights had a pair of three-point plays on follow shots and a 3 in the second quarter to give Golden State a nice lift off the bench. He had nine points in four minutes during that stretch and 14 points overall for his fifth double-digit scoring game this postseason.

"Their bench came in and made shots, made plays for them," Durant said. "We know we're going home. We can't relax."

Golden State made 31 of 34 free throws.

With his 1,248th career postseason point in the third, Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain (1,246) for second place on the franchise's playoff scoring list.

"That's who he is, that's what he's done, and that's what's made him a very good player," Donovan said.

Tip-ins
Thunder: The franchise lost in the finals in 1977-78, 1995-96 to Kerr and the Chicago Bulls and in `12. ... Steven Adams sat down with his second foul at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter. The Thunder had seven fouls to Golden State's one after the first. ... Oklahoma City took Game 1 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have lost only three times all season. ... The Thunder started the game 3 for 14.

Warriors: Green picked up his fifth technical of the postseason. He also has at least one steal in 16 straight playoff games. ... Golden State missed six of its first seven 3s. ... The Warriors supported Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager with "Sager Strong" T-shirts for sale to support awareness and research for leukemia and lymphoma, both blood cancers.

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez strikes out 12 in Marlins' win over Rays

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Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez strikes out 12 in Marlins' win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jose Fernandez struck out 12 in seven innings Thursday and won his sixth straight start for the Miami Marlins, a 9-1 decision over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fernandez (7-2) struck out eight of the last 10 batters he faced and struck out every hitter in the Rays lineup at least once. The 23-year-old right-hander from Tampa gave up six hits in beating his hometown Rays for the first time in three tries. He finished the game with 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings, highest among major league starters.

Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Johnson homered for the Marlins, who won three of four in their annual series against the Rays.

Hechavarria's third home run drove in the final two runs of a three-run second inning off Rays starter Drew Smyly. Johnson made it 5-0 with his second homer an inning later, Johnson's first hit in 22 interleague at bats (see full recap).

Rockies silence Red Sox, Bradley's hit streak
BOSTON -- Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story and Dustin Garneau hit two-run homers and the Colorado Rockies stopped Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 29-game hitting streak with a 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

The win ended a three-game losing streak by Colorado and it ended a four-game winning streak for the Red Sox. Bradley's major league-best streak was halted when he went 0 for 4 after moving up to the leadoff spot for the first time this season.

Jon Gray (2-2) gave up a two-run home run to David Ortiz in the first, but pitched six scoreless innings before leaving in the eighth.

Clay Buchholz (2-5) took the loss. He pitched three perfect innings before things came apart in the fourth, when he gave up Gonzalez's homer with the other two coming the following inning (see full recap).

Happ leads Blue Jays past Yankees
NEW YORK -- J.A. Happ pitched seven strong innings, Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis had two-out RBIs, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-1 on Thursday to win the three-game series.

CC Sabathia was the tough-luck loser for New York, allowing just two unearned runs. Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his first game since going on the disabled list May 4 with a strained right hamstring.

Happ (6-2) allowed one run on three hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He has given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 of his last 20 starts.

Sabathia (3-3) retired the first seven batters before an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius on Travis' grounder with one out in the third (see full recap).