Nationals

Bears WR Marshall blasts Packers

201212091321481068461-p2.jpeg

Bears WR Marshall blasts Packers

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall lashed out at Green Bay on Wednesday, saying he's never disliked a team as much as the Packers.

``I don't like the Green Bay Packers,'' he said during his weekly session with reporters. ``I'm not going to use the word hate, but I really dislike the Green Bay Packers and their players. But the talk, you have to back it up. We'll go out there and we'll do everything we need to do to get a win.''

The Bears (8-5) clearly need one after dropping four of five heading into Sunday's home game against Green Bay. The Packers (9-4) clinch the NFC North if they beat Chicago, so the stakes already were high.

Marshall simply added some more fuel during a lively news conference.

``This is personal,'' he said.

He strode to the podium with a small, almost bare Christmas tree with a red ornament dangling from it, as the Peanuts theme played.

It was a symbolic statement, that even though things are looking about as ugly as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree at the moment, the Bears still have time.

There was nothing symbolic when it came to his comments about the Packers.

``I've never felt this strong in sports - versus any team or any players,'' Marshall said. ``I'm going to play like it's my last game.''

His dislike for them seems to stem from a 23-10 loss at Green Bay in Week 2 in which he caught just two passes for 24 yards.

Marshall called defensive coordinator Dom Capers the MVP for the Packers and took issue with comments he said several of their players made. He also said he hopes to see one-on-one coverage.

``For their players to be over there talking about how awesome of a job they (do) shutting down certain players, I don't respect that, when it's two and three guys on you or other guys,'' Marshall said. ``Coach Capers did an amazing job of game-planning us and game-planning me. I didn't beat double or triple coverage or whatever they were throwing at us. I take it as a slap in my face when guys talk about my lack of ability to do something against them when they have help all over the place. I'm looking forward to one-on-one coverage. Hopefully, those guys in games like this may go to their coach and say, `Let me have him. I want Brandon Marshall. I want to stop Brandon Marshall. Let me have him one-on-one, press coverage.' And we'll see what happens.''

Marshall said cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson said some things that bothered him.

The most pointed comments from the Packers that night were directed toward Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, with Woodson saying they knew he would throw it to them.

Considering they picked him off four times, it was hard to argue. And they did that after Cutler wished the Packers ``good luck'' trying to match up physically with the Bears' receivers.

Woodson did tell FOXsports.com in an article that appeared last month that Marshall ``likes to bend and break the rules.''

``He's one of those guys where he wants you to put your hands on him so he's going to grab you and throw you. I'm like, `Mr. Ref, he's not fast enough to get on top of me. How do you think he got on top?''' Woodson told the website.

Marshall, meanwhile, was asked about the physicality of Green Bay's secondary on Wednesday.

``Non-existent,'' he responded.

Marshall added: ``Leading up to the game, they were complaining about how big I was and I was a cheater because I grabbed and pushed at the line of scrimmage. I thought that what's bump coverage was about. So they put them off and throw them inside and safety over the top and a linebacker running out to me. They did a bunch of things and it was good. But we won't make that mistake again. We won't force the ball to me.''

Marshall called this the biggest game of his career and said he was looking forward to facing Woodson. But that won't happen.

Shortly after Marshall spoke, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said doctors decided Woodson isn't quite ready to return from a broken collarbone, so he's been ruled out for this week.

Marshall, meanwhile, said he respects the Packers' accomplishments. He just won't be shaking their hands on Sunday.

``It's not going to happen,'' he said.

Notes: Bears coach Lovie Smith took offense to a question about his contract status. Smith is signed through 2013, but there has been some speculation about his future with the Bears in a free fall for the second straight year. ``Stop you right there,'' he said. ``Why in the world would we be talking about a contract with Green Bay week here? What I can talk about is, I'm excited about playing the Packers again.'' Smith also said he has no plans to make any coaching changes at the moment. ... Cutler again said he expects to be ready Sunday after leaving last week's game at Minnesota with a sore neck. ... The Bears had a walkthrough instead of a full practice on Wednesday because they're banged up at the moment. ... The Bears signed DT Amobi Okoye to a one-year contract on Wednesday, after waiving him late last month.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Max Scherzer's return from hamstring injury was a battle, but one he won against the Mets

Max Scherzer's return from hamstring injury was a battle, but one he won against the Mets

Better. Though the bar was low.

Max Scherzer worked for six innings Tuesday night in New York. He made it through one roughshod inning during his last outing against the Mets because his hamstring “tweak” was enough of an alarm that he decided to stop pitching.

That was seven days prior to his start against the Mets, which the Nationals won, 2-1. Ostensibly, Scherzer had not pitched for 13 days. He lasted the one inning, needed to work his hamstring problem out, then find a way back to the mound.

Davey Martinez wanted him to stop sprinting -- the initial cause of the hamstring problem -- in between starts. Scherzer did not want to stop sprinting, so he continued to do so once he felt better. He also pitched twice from a mound in the days before the bottom of the first on Tuesday. Both times, he felt 100 percent when pushing and landing. The hamstring was fine. So much so, that he expected to throw the 105 pitches he did to hold off the Mets across the grinding innings they imposed on him.

“Took some shots there early, but didn’t break and found a way to execute pitches there later in the game,” Scherzer said.

RELATED: TREA TURNER'S SWING HAS TAKEN TIME TO ADJUST WITHOUT REPLAY ACCESS

He finished with seven strikeouts across the six innings. Just a run scored. But, there were eight baserunners and Scherzer was in severe trouble in both the first and second innings. Those were the issues as he hunted a path to better out-pitches and location.

“It honestly kind of reminded me of Game 7 of the World Series when he went out there and he couldn’t zone in on the strike zone,” Martinez said. “His stuff was good. His pitch count got high. Once he settled in, we started noticing he started getting through the ball a little better. Balls started coming down. Started throwing a lot more strikes.”

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

“Even though my pitch count got out of control, I was just able to just stay with [Kurt Suzuki] and continue to pound the zone and find a way to get through six [Tuesday],” Scherzer said.

The good is clear: He is back on the mound, healthy, throwing 98 mph and 100-plus pitches. Stephen Strasburg returned two days prior, though he is not 100 percent. Scherzer is physically right, if slightly rusty. That combination was sufficient in his first start after the hamstring problem.

Stay connected to the Nationals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

With no access to in-game video, Trea Turner’s swing has taken time to adjust

With no access to in-game video, Trea Turner’s swing has taken time to adjust

Heading into the Nationals’ four-game series with the New York Mets this week, Trea Turner was hitting just .196 on the young season with one home run. The vaunted base stealer had been thrown out on the basepaths three times while having yet to swipe a bag successfully. In the field, he’d racked up three errors.

It was a frustrating start for the 27-year-old shortstop, who’s coming off a season in which he played with only nine fingers and still found a way to serve as a catalyst atop the Nationals’ lineup. Now fully healthy, Turner was expected to play a role in helping Washington absorb the loss of Anthony Rendon in the middle of its lineup.

Normally, poor at-bats would prompt Turner to head down to the replay room for a quick look at his mechanics. He goes into the clubhouse in between innings and examines his previous swings to see if he needs to make any adjustments. It’s a practice Turner has grown to rely on over the course of his major-league career.

But this season, Turner hasn’t had access to the replay room after MLB banned in-game video as part of its health protocols for playing in the middle of a pandemic. Instead, he’s had to wait until after each game before being able to break down his swing. It’s made for slower progress, but after going 5-for-9 with two home runs and four RBIs over the first two games of the series in New York, he feels that his adjustments have started to pay off.

“I felt good in the box and I feel like my approach was good but not having video is a little different and I feel like in years past I was pretty good at going back and just checking out the swing real quick and making the little adjustment I need to make in game,” Turner said in a Zoom press conference after Tuesday’s 2-1 win.

“Finally made the right adjustment a few games ago and started putting the barrel on the ball and feeling a little better. The last four or five games or so my contact has been a little bit stronger and it was just a matter of time for the hits to start to fall.”

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

Turner hasn’t been the only member of the baseball community to express how the lack of video access has changed their approach. On Saturday, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash told MLB Network Radio that he wasn’t pleased with MLB’s decision to ban something that had become an integral tool for coaches and players during games.

“Without being too controversial, I think it's absolutely ridiculous,” Cash said. “It's probably one of the worst things that I've seen Major League Baseball do in take video away from players. Video is what makes us good. It helps us learn, it helps us coach, it helps us attack. And it's been taken away from us because of one team, or a couple teams' stupid choices.”

“We can't even watch a game; we cannot watch our own game. Our players cannot come in and watch a game in the clubhouse. It is asinine. The entire protocol system, how they came up with that, it is wrong. They're doing an injustice to players.”

While it’s unknown whether the real reasoning behind MLB’s decision is related to health protocols or the sign-stealing scandals that surrounded the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox over the offseason, Turner isn’t making any excuses. In fact, the results are beginning to turn his way.

Entering play Tuesday, Turner had a hard-hit percentage of 40.9 percent, well above his career rate of 32.5. His batting average on balls in play was just .238 (league average is .300), indicating he had been getting unlucky on some well struck balls. In fact, his groundball rate is down five percentage points from his career average while his flyball rate is up 10 percent.

Then came his home run off Mets starter Rick Porcello in the first inning. Turner took a breaking ball high and away and hit it off his back foot on a line straight into the seats in right field.

It was only Turner’s second opposite-field homer of his career after he hit none all of last season. Yet even with the adjustments he’d been making to his swing, he said that he didn’t go into the at-bat looking to hit anything to right field against Porcello.

“I think it’s just swing path and pitch,” Turner said. “I’ve hit a few balls to right-center out in certain stadiums, mostly probably at home, and I don’t know if those are opposite field per se. They might be more center field but I just think when you’re facing righties, to hit an opposite-field home run is fairly tough. He tried going toward that backdoor sinker and I just felt like it was the right swing on the right pitch and just keeping it fair and not slicing the ball.”

Turner will continue tweaking away at his swing, hoping to produce results like he has so far in the New York. But with or without the video replay room, he doesn’t expect the opposite-field homer to be the start of a new trend.

“I don’t have necessarily that oppo power some of these big guys get,” Turner said. “I usually have to pull them but every once in a while, if you get the right pitch on the right swing, it sneaks out. So I’ll take it.”

Stay connected to the Nationals with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: