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Friday, March 16, 2012
Richard Marshall comfortable at CB, safety

By James Walker

The Miami Dolphins signed versatile defensive back Richard Marshall to a three-year, $16 million contract this week. Marshall spent most of his career at cornerback before making the switch to safety last season with the Arizona Cardinals.

It's unknown what role Marshall will play in Miami's secondary. The Dolphins have needs at both safety and nickel corner behind starters Sean Smith and Vontae Davis. According to Marshall, Dolphins coaches told him they will sort everything out in the spring during offseason workouts and minicamps.

"I'm most comfortable with doing either or," Marshall said on a conference call this week. "Last year was my first year really getting back there and playing safety. I got comfortable with it after a while. I'm happy and ready to come in just to contribute any way I can."

Marshall was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2006 to play cornerback. He didn't work his way into the starting lineup full-time until 2009. The Panthers eventually let Marshall go after the 2010 season.

But Marshall had arguably the best year of his career with the Cardinals last season. He played in all 16 games, including nine starts, and recorded three interceptions and tied a career-high with 11 passes defensed. Even while trying a new position at safety, Marshall stayed around the football. That caught the eye of Miami's coaching staff heading into free agency.

"I feel like I'm big enough to play any position," Marshall said. "I'm an aggressive guy. I come up and tackle, so I've never had a problem with that. Safeties, they have a lot to cover as well. With my corner background, I don't have a problem going back there and playing safety if that's something they want me to do."

Miami could have a solid starting secondary with Davis and Smith at cornerback and Marshall and Yeremiah Bell at safety next season. If not, Davis, Smith and Marshall also would make a good trio of cornerbacks against multiple-receiver sets.