New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers Has “A Great Presence” So Far

The New York Giants acquired Jabrill Peppers in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade.

It was a huge deal when the New York Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr., and it’s almost easy to just focus on Beckham’s departure without remembering that the Giants got a player in return for Beckham along with the 17th pick in the draft. That player happened to be Jabrill Peppers, the safety that’s expected to fill in for Landon Collins this year as the leader of the safeties.

Peppers, of course, isn’t the most experienced player at the position. Antoine Bethea is the much older of the two and Michael Thomas is also the older player. However, neither of those players are coming into the season with the same expectations as Peppers, who has been hyped since his college days at Michigan.

Despite the high expectations, however, it looks like Peppers is handling thing well for now during OTAs.

“You can look to him and see that he has that about him. He has a great presence. If you are around him on a day-to-day basis, you can see that he will quickly become one of the guys where you say, ‘OK, he’s got it.’ He loves playing football and has a lot of fun doing it and a lot of fun competing. I think that is part of his charm and what makes him special. He is so darn competitive. It shows up naturally,” Pat Shurmur said on Tuesday.

And Peppers is also gaining popularity with Bethea, who will play next to him at safety this season. “Peppers, he likes to play down in the box, get his hands on guys, he can cover. I can play on the back end, and do a multitude of things. I think we can play off of each other very well. I think it’s going to be a good connection between the two of us,” Bethea stated.

Peppers has two years of experience and had his best season last year when he registered 79 tackles and 5 tackles for a loss. It’s not quite the same production as Collins, who had 96 tackles in 2018, but Giants fans will be hoping that two years of prior experience will be enough for Peppers to come into his own more and be the main player at safety that the Giants need with the absence of Collins from this year’s roster.

New York Yankees Begin Crucial Weekend Series Against Red Sox

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The most famous rivalry in baseball has a bit more importance this weekend.

The New York Yankees are red hot, while the Red Sox are starting to win enough games to get back in contention. Dependent on weather the Red Sox win on Wednesday against the Indians or not, the Yankees will be either 6.5 or 7.5 games ahead of them.

The Red Sox however are still not the closest team to the Yankees. If Tampa beats the Blue Jays on Wednesday, they will be just a game behind the Yankees.

The Yankees are 2-0 in the season series, and wins this weekend will mean more than just bragging rights in the rivalry. A sweep could put the Yankees up to 11 games ahead of the Red Sox, and it would be the largest division lead over them in years.

Tampa has a series with the best team in baseball, the Minnesota Twins this weekend. The Yankees could even grow their lead on them, too.

Who gets the ball?

Thursday’s and Sunday’s pitchers are set in stone for the Yankees. JA Happ will pitch Thursday against Chris Sale, and CC Sabathia will be activated from the IL and will pitch Sunday against David Price.

Eduardo Rodriguez will pitch Friday and Rick Porcello will pitch Saturday for the Red Sox. For the Yankees, Domingo German will pitch one day, while the other day will be a bullpen game.

If Happ can give the Yankees distance on Thursday, the bullpen game will be on Friday. In the case that he can’t, then the bullpen game would be on Saturday and German would throw on Friday. If German pitches on Saturday, he will be going on an extra day of rest. That would be the A plan for the Yankees.

On the other side of the plate, Gary Sanchez should be rested and ready to catch all four games this weekend. He sat Thursday to rest and give Austin Romine a few at-bats.

And, the high leverage bullpen guys should be well rested for Thursday. Adam Ottavino pitched one inning on Wednesday, and Jonathan Holder pitched two.

The Yankees will look to have a big weekend to extend their division lead, as well as bragging rights in the greatest rivalry in sports.

How the New York Giants have upgraded the secondary significantly

New York Giants cornerback, Grant Haley.

The New York Giants spent plenty of capital fixing up the secondary this offseason, bringing Jabrill Peppers, Antoine Bethea, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine.

Considering the unit only consisted of Janoris Jenkins, Grant Haley, and Sam Beal before the 2019 NFL Draft, it’s impressive how far the unit has come in such a short period of time. However, most of the players featured here haven’t played a snap in an NFL game, which is noted.

Aside from that fact, the talent added provides a reason for excitement. Baker is a first-round value pick, Love was a projected second-round talent that fell to the fourth, and Ballentine was projected to go in the fourth and fell to the sixth. Peppers was a former first-round selection that struggled at times with misuse in Cleveland, and Bethea is a seasoned veteran that has plenty of gas left in the tank.

As I said before, plenty of talent and reason for excitement. So far in OTAs, the secondary has completely locked down the offense, forcing Eli Manning to sail throws out of bounds and Daniel Jones to show his rookie jitters.

The Giants are very happy with Baker so far, stating:

“No one seems to get very open on DeAndre Baker,” John Schmeelk of Giants.com wrote. “The young outside cornerbacks are showing promise and ability, and their development will continue in training camp as they figure out how much contact they can get away with beyond five yards.”

Beal as well:

Shurmur stated that the third-round Supplemental Draft pick has looked good and is getting his sea legs under him. Julian Love scooped up a fumble from Elijah Penny on Tuesday and took it to the house for the virtual score.

I’m curious to see some of the position battles that will ensue between the cornerbacks this offseason.

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New York Giants top corner position battles:

There are two specific battles that I’m very excited to watch — DeAndre Baker vs Sam Beal & Julian Love vs Grant Haley.

Some might not think Baker vs Beal is much of a battle, considering where Baker was drafted and the talent he faced at Georgia. However, Beal is feisty and has shown his abilities in a small sample size so far during OTAs. The competitive nature will bring the best out of both, which is exactly what the Giants want to happen.

Between Haley and Love, I believe the former will win the job simply based on experience. Love will be close behind and would be first in line if Haley looks replaceable.

New York Knicks Media Gets Their First Crack At RJ Barrett

RJ Barrett addressed the New York Knicks media for the first time after the NBA lottery.  He was at UCLA’s BDA Sports Management Pro Day.  However, Barrett did not participate in the workout, but gave Knicks fan what they wanted to hear.

New York Post’s Kevin Kernan reports Barrett got excited just hearing the word ‘Knicks’.

Barrett stated that “New York is my favorite.”  He has family there.  His parents  attended St. John’s and he visited every summer.

Also, he felt very comfortable with Coach Fizdale and Knicks management.  Knicks fans have to be pleased with a player being comfortable with their management.

It is the new regime.  It is David Fizdale & Scott Perry effect.

Barrett appeared to say all the right things.  Facing the New York media is no easy task.  He is excited to simply play in the NBA, let alone call ‘The Garden’ his home.

He also got his first taste of how tough the media could be.  Barrett was asked about possibly being traded, if the Knicks traded the pick in a deal for Anthony Davis.

Barrett handled it professionally, stating he would still be playing in the NBA and would deal with it.

However, Barrett appears to be embrace the notion of being chosen by the Knicks.  He is still an attractive young piece to possibly lure big free agents this summer.

New York Giants: Who Will Win The Starting Center Position?

The New York Giants have completely rebuilt the offensive line over the past two years. When general manager Dave Gettleman joined the front office last year, his top priority was to fix the offensive line.

Gettleman fixed the line partially in 2018 but made some mistakes along the way. He signed guard Patrick Omameh to an awful contract, and cut him only seven games into the season. Gettleman also kept Ereck Flowers as a starter for the first two games of the season before cutting him after only five games.

Omameh and Flowers were two of the worst offensive linemen in 2018. Gettleman replaced each of them with acquisitions in the 2019 offseason, such as Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers. The left side of the offensive line is solid already so it has not been adjusted, but that is not the only part of the line to remain untouched.

The Giants revamped the right side of the offensive line but left the left side and the center as is. Gettleman is taking a gamble at the center position and sticking with in-house talent. Jon Halapio and Spencer Pulley both started games at center in 2018, and in 2019, they will have a competition to see who will get the starting job.

Why Jon Halapio Might Start

Jon Halapio showed flashes of being an excellent center at the beginning of the 2018 NFL season. Unfortunately, Halapio suffered a gruesome leg injury in Week 2 that caused him to miss the rest of the season.

Halapio’s performance at the beginning of the season was enough to convince Dave Gettleman that Halapio should be the starter. In Gettleman’s end-of-season presser, he urged the press: “Don’t forget about ‘Pio!”

Dave Gettleman reminded the media that Jon Halapio was playing best out of any of the offensive linemen before he went down with his injury. He is not wrong either. Halapio was not necessarily playing at an elite level, but the entire offensive line was playing so poorly that he stood out as the best of the group.

According to Pro Football Focus, Jon Halapio had a 69.4 overall grade before suffering the injury. Through 2 weeks of the season, Halapio had the 2nd best pass blocking grade (87.5) among centers with a minimum of 80 snaps. He was also the highest graded offensive lineman on the Giants through those weeks and the 6th highest graded center in the NFL.

Jon Halapio should have the edge in the competition for the starting job based on his solid performance at the beginning of last season. However, his health is a major question mark, and the man he is competing with does not share this same concern.

Why Spencer Pulley Might Start

The Giants signed Spencer Pulley to a contract extension this offseason. Pulley signed a three-year, $9.6 million deal with Big Blue. This contract could keep Pulley around as the starter or as a long-term backup. If Pulley does not win the starting job, he will be a solid depth player.

There is still reason to believe that Pulley might win the job, though. Pulley played in 13 games for the Giants last year and started 9 of those games. Spencer Pulley certainly is one thing: durable.

Pulley played in 16 games in each of his first two seasons with the Chargers and played in 13 games in 2018 with the Giants. Sometimes, availability is a player’s most important trait, and that is the case with Pulley.

The Giants are likely hoping that the flashes Halapio showed at the beginning of the 2018 season lead to him being the team’s starter. Spencer Pulley was one of the lowest graded players on the Giants in 2018 according to Pro Football Focus, so he will probably serve best as a reliable backup.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones has one goal in his rookie season

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Daniel Jones.

The 4th OTA practice for the New York Giants saw Eli Manning sail several passes into the bleachers with a relatively clean pocket, but this doesn’t indicate any sort of opportunity for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones to steal the starting job.

Manning is a seasoned veteran that understands the defensive concepts and progressions when in live-action, something Jones hasn’t experienced at the NFL level yet. Eli has 15 years under his belt. The reality is, Jones isn’t close to starting a game at the professional level, considering Manning’s presence and head coach Pat Shurmur’s confidence in the veteran passer.

The Giants’ 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft as one goal in his rookie season — to learn as much as humanly possible from Manning.

Jones commented after practice on his progression and how he’s utilized Manning as a learning tool:

“Eli [Manning] has been very helpful for me. We have a great relationship and we have a great quarterback room.”

“It’s a daily process and I’m learning and trying to improve everyday…it’s been a good start and I’m enjoying it.”

Shurmur also comments on the rookie’s development:

“Daniel Jones is competing and getting better everyday…he’s here all the time just like all the other quarterbacks. He’s doing everything he can to get ready.”

Jones will battle Alex Tanney for the No. 2 quarterback spot on the roster this offseason, and he’s already earning reps with the 2nd team in just his fourth practice. Shurmur made it known that every player will have to earn their spot, except Manning, of course.

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How will the New York Giants help Daniel Jones progress?

Moving forward, I expect to see a ton of side-by-side training for Manning and Jones. The coaching staff wants the two attached at the hip ultimately, that’s the best way to help groom the Duke product. Interestingly, both are very similar already. Just as Manning has serenaded the media for the last 15 years, Jones has a similar charm and wit to his public appearances.

He says the right things at the right times and stays away from the negativity, mostly present on social media. That’s what makes me think Dwayne Haskins might’ve imploded at the hands of the New York media. However, the Giants put all their chips in on Jones, a player that flashed plenty of potential on a team that lacked significant talent. Now, he’s preparing to sit quietly behind Manning for a year while he soaks in the ideal methods of preparation and success.

 

New York Yankees: How Clint Frazier can be elite

New York Yankees outfielder, Clint Frazier.

The New York Yankees have been red-hot as of late, and red-lightning, Clint Frazier, has led the charge on a seven-game away win streak that ended on Sunday against the Kansas City Royals.

Frazier has been a monster at the plate, hitting an impressive .284 over 134 at-bats including 10 home runs and 28 RBIs. His lightning-quick bat has been the winning factor for the outfielder, however, his defense has been his downfall.

Frazier has already picked up two errors and has a .944 fielding rate, one of the lowest in the league. To put that into perspective, the Seattle Mariners have the worst combined fielding rate at .971, which makes Frazier’s look that much worse. Brett Gardner, who’s been moving around the outfield, has earned a .990 fielding rate, far superior to Fraziers.

The bottom line, the quick bat needs to work on his defense if he wishes to take his overall game to the next level, but starting with an electric back certainly helps.

How have the New York Yankees countered his problems in the outfield?

One way the Yankees have limited his defensive mishaps is by pulling him early during games. Manager Aaron Boone took Frazier out of the game in the sixth inning on Monday afternoon to mitigate the potential for a mistake. Boone plugged Cameron Maybin in for his speed and defensive attributes.

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“It’s just a situation where you’re just trying to put the best defense on the field in a game that you have a lead,” Boone said after the Yankees’ 5-2 win over the Padres at the Stadium.

The Yankees are working with Clint to correct the issue that has plagued him throughout the season, and Boone believes it’s a lack of confidence rather than deficiency.

“There’s room for improvement out there, and I’m working hard, and I’m trying to fix some things that shouldn’t happen that keep happening,” Frazier said. “I’m just trying to target the confidence that I have at the plate, and take it out there into the outfield.”

Hopefully, he will elevate the defensive part of his game and become a well-rounded player, something the Yankees desperately need with the injuries piling up and fatigue surely setting in over the course of the season.

New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea Already Connecting

New York Giants cornerback, DeAndre Baker.

The New York Giants brought in a slew of new players to help upgrade the secondary this offseason, two of which are Jabrill Peppers, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, and Antoine Bethea, coming from the Arizona Cardinals.

Peppers had an uneventful career in Cleveland, but he’s already showing he can be a playmaker for the Giants and defensive coordinator, James Bettcher. The diverse safety has the ability to play in coverage in the slot and against tight ends. He can also play the run and blitz the passer. Peppers is a true “Swiss Army Knife” type of player – do it all.

Bettcher will surely utilize him all over the field, something he couldn’t necessarily do with Landon Collins. Bethea, however, made the transition to free safety several seasons ago as age inevitably caught up with him. He’s familiar with Bettcher’s scheme and has shown promise as a free safety as of late.

Bethea racked up 121 combined tackles, four passes defended, three sacks, and one forced fumble in 2018. His abilities in coverage should present an upgrade over Curtis Riley, in addition to his veteran leadership which will be implemented o the rookies.

How have the defenders looked so far for the New York Giants?

So far during OTAs, the duo has shown chemistry and playmaking ability. In the first day of practice, Peppers secured an interception off a Sam Beal tipped pass, and in day 4 of practice, Bethea came up with a pick.

Coach Pat Shurmur stated after the practice:

“Antoine Bethea had an interception today. He’s communicating really well with [Jabrill] Peppers…you can see they’re in the right spots and we’re really pleased with where they’re at.”

“Peppers loves to play football, he’s very vocal, him and Bethea are working well together.”

Positioning is extremely important for safeties, as we saw last year with Riley who seemed to take the wrong angle on nearly every play. Pairing an elite athlete in Peppers with a savvy veteran like Bethea should present not only an upgrade but an exciting pair to enjoy over the course of the season.

 

 

New York Knicks: Can Kevin Durant handle the harsh New York media?

Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant

New York Knicks free agent target, Kevin Durant, is no stranger to the media. Durant has always been engaged with the media whether it be fans or talking heads, it’s how he responded that makes him a potential liability in a harsh New York market.

His most recent beef was with Chris Broussard over his comments on, The Herd.  The engagement was essentially over Durant being bothered with the Warriors winning without him.

Durant appears sensitive when it comes to ‘friends’ or anyone making comments that he does not agree with.  He will clap back.  Does it seem petty?  Yes, but he has a right to do so.

However, after all of his comments, alleged burner accounts and sensitivity to criticism, will he be able to handle the New York media?

New York is a different animal when it comes to sports. The media in the Big Apple does not hold back and are very upfront with their disgust when it comes to their teams. They’re brutally honest, 24/7, 365 days per year.

The Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported that Durant knows what he is getting himself into. But, does he really?  Durant has had his fair share of criticism in Oklahoma City and especially in Golden State, but nothing close to New York.

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Fans have seen numerous players crumble because they can not handle the attention and expectations that come with playing in New York.

Durant better be ready for what he is going to get himself into if he signs with the Knicks.  All the attention and criticism will be 1000x in New York.  However, if he is able to handle the media and perform then he will quickly win over the entire city.

New York Giants: Top News 5/29 – Antoine Bethea is the old man on the block

The New York Giants need to extract value from Antoine Bethea.

Good morning, New York Giants fans!

Another day, another dollar for the New York Giants, however, trusty steed Antoine Bethea has racked up 13 years worth of dollars. General manager Dave Gettleman brought in Bethea for his familiarity with James Bettcher’s system and his veteran leadership which will be used significantly this offseason.

With a secondary full of puppies, Bethea, the old dog, will help the youngsters get up to speed and find their way around an NFL defense. So far, DeAndre Baker looks the part in coverage, playing tight on his man and letting nothing by him. Jabrill Peppers, acquired from the Cleveland Browns in a trade that sent Olivier Vernon over, has paired very well with the former Cardinal.

Bethea racked up 121 combined tackles, four passes defended, and three sacks in 2018. I imagine Bettcher will utilize Bethea and Peppers in exciting and new blitz packages. Both are fierce players that can play multiple positions on the field, which will only help Bettcher disguise his blitzing schemes and find ways to get players in the backfield to disrupt the opposing quarterback.

With a lack of true defensive pass-rush specialists, finding creative ways to utilize other players will be a priority for the Giants’ defensive coordinator.

Nonetheless–

Giants top articles of the day:

John Schmeelk (Giants.com) – Sideline Notes: Giants OTA No. 4

Steve Serby (New York Post) – Giants only hope this is where Corey Ballentine heals from heartbreak

Paul Schwartz (New York Post) – Giants already extolling Jabrill Peppers’ loud leadership

Ed Valentine (Big Blue View) – Giants’ Saquon Barkley not worried about potentially increased workload

Alexander Wilson (Empire Sports Media) – New York Giants: Grading the offseason acquisitions

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