New York Giants: Sterling Shepard Still Active In Practice As Preseason Approaches

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Sterling Shepard isn’t going to play in tomorrow night’s preseason opener, another meeting of the New York Giants and the New York Jets, but that doesn’t mean the Giants’ top receiver Sterling Shepard isn’t working out in practice with the rest of the team still.

After suffering a fractured thumb, Shepard managed to make a quick recovery to catching again, in a matter of weeks rather than months. Shepard is predicted to come back in week one, and from the current recovery timeline, it doesn’t look like the prediction is an unrealistic one.

This week, Shepard has spoken more about the process of getting back into action in practice following the injury.

“My thumb is broken, but my legs aren’t. If I hit it real hard, that’s when it reminds me that it’s broken. I try to catch it just with one [hand] and keep it at that. But instincts kick in from time to time and I throw up two,” Shepard told reporters.

Shepard has also spoken about the yellow jersey that he’s often seen wearing in practice now – the jersey, of course, marks out players that shouldn’t be tackled.

“Time to take it off. But it’s for precautionary reasons and I’m just kind of going with what the trainers want. I think the ultimate goal is to get to that first [regular-season] game, for sure. If I gotta wear it for that, that’s what I’ll do.”

A week one return would help the Giants greatly considering it looks very unlikely at this point that Golden Tate’s PED case will result in the four game suspension being overturned.

The Giants may just end up going into the season with Shepard, Cody Latimer, and Russell Shepard as their three main receivers based on the current state of things – it might not be the worst lineup in the world, even if it’s not what was expected. That, however, will rely on Shepard’s path to recovery staying as consistent as it’s been so far.

New York Giants: Training Camp and 2019 Season Thoughts

The start of the New York Giants training camp is a time when most fans find a reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season for the football team they dedicate 17+ weeks to. It’s also necessary to pause and provide some introspection on the team and address some of the mainstream storylines that have circulated across the Giants message boards and Twitter.  Below are my thoughts at we conclude the first two weeks of training camp. 

  • The Giants desperately need Lorenzo Carter to take a major leap. The Giants linebacking unit may be the worst in the league. Carter was their best cover linebacker last year and is the only player I trust to not be a liability on third down. It wouldn’t surprise me if B.J. Goodson and Alec Ogletree’s playing time was reduced in passing situations, both struggled in coverage last season. Carter might even be more valuable to the Giants playing out in space as he is rushing the passer.
  • The defense will likely stink again this season. The Giants had the 24th ranked defense by DVOA last year and is unlikely to improve this year. The Giants don’t have anyone on the roster that proved they could consistently rush the passer last season, their linebackers will struggle to defend the run and the pass and they don’t have any corners that played well in coverage last year. Furthermore, the Giants will be relying on a lot of young players (B.J. Hill, Carter, Dexter Lawrence, Sam Beal, DeAndre Baker, Grant Haley, Julian Love, and Oshane Ximines) to play well this year. It’s unrealistic to think that most of these young players can be impactful on a consistent basis.
  • Evan Engram is an upgrade over Golden Tate. The loss of Golden Tate will hurt the Giants, but not as much as people may think. Evan Engram will get more targets in Tate’s absence, and at this point of their careers, Engram is a more explosive receiver than Tate. Engram needs to improve his route running and struggles to shake from coverage, but Shurmur finally figured out how to use Engram in the second half of the season. Get him in space and let him run. I expect the Giants to use him more to stretch the field than they have in the past. 
  • The offense will not be better without Odell Beckham Jr. this year. For the first time since 2010, the Giants should have an above-average pass-blocking offensive line. However, don’t expect the Giants offense to be better than last year when they ranked 13th by DVOA. It’s too simple to look at the last four games of the season, wipe out the Titans game and come to the conclusion the Giants offense can thrive without Beckham. It can’t. Without Beckham, defenses can focus on containing Barkley and will have confidence their secondary can hold up against the Giants receivers. Shurmer will have to be extra creative with his scheme and play calling to help the Giants receiver get open against man coverage.
  • Daniel Jones needs first-team reps. The Giants can help Jones grow without sacrificing victories this season. He needs to be given first-team reps in training camp and the preseason. Eli Manning does not require 100% of the reps with the starters to get himself ready for the season. Giving Jones a portion of those reps will help Eli rest his arm while giving Jones valuable experience playing behind the first-string offensive line. The Giants will learn very little about the potential of their first-round pick if he’s spending camp and preseason running for his life. 

 

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard Health Update

The New York Giants‘ training camp got off to a very rocky start. New York was hit with the injury bug leaving fans nervous for the season. The receiving corps, in particular, had to deal with multiple significant injuries.

The Giants lost wide receiver Corey Coleman for the season due to an ACL injury. On top of that, starting receiver Sterling Shepard broke his thumb during the first practice of training camp. Fans feared this injury would leak into the regular season, but fortunately, the injury was not as bad as initially believed.

In fact, Shepard did not miss much time with this thumb injury. Sterling was able to get back to practice the same week he suffered his injury, but he was only catching with one hand.

Now the Giants have given Shepard even more opportunities in practice. Shep has been participating in 11 on 11 drills using both hands to catch the football. The only restriction for Sterling is that he is wearing a yellow non-contact jersey to the defense knows not to rough him up.

This lead to yet another injury scare for the Giants on Monday. Eli Manning and his new, stronger arm, threw a fastball to Shepard during practice. Sterling is still dealing with his thumb fracture, obviously, so this did not have a happy ending.

The ball zipped through Shepard’s hand. Sterling then came away from the play “flexing his left hand,” the hand that has his fractured thumb. A risky play that could have set the Giants’ offense back by weeks.

Fans and reporters on Twitter were very critical of the Giants for putting Sterling Shepard in this unnecessarily risky situation:

But since then, we have not heard anything about Shepard’s thumb. It seems like Sterling is healing quickly and should miss no regular-season playing time. However, Giants fans should not expect to see Sterling Shepard get any playing time during the team’s first preseason game on Thursday against the New York Jets.

Is the New York Knicks depth enough to carry them to the playoffs?

New York Knicks, Noah Vonleh, Frank Ntilikina

Can the New York Knicks survive off their depth?

While the New York Knicks have a questionable starting lineup, their depth is encouraging and has the quality to be one of the most productive in the NBA. However, without an adequate starting unit, it will be challenging to succeed at a high-level and earn a spot in the postseason.

Some might argue that the Knicks starting five is full of talent and capable of surprising us all. A more realistic bunch might hit on some of the questions marks that remain on the team. For example, the lack of chemistry the team currently has, the youth that they will put out onto the court, and the inconsistencies at their point guard position.

Dennis Smith Jr. might have a ton of optimism surrounding him, but he isn’t an elite scorer despite being an above-average athlete that comes up with momentum-changing plays on occasion.

Behind Smith Jr., the Knicks have Frank Ntilikina and Elfrid Payton, two reserve-caliber players that won’t crack the starting team, theoretically giving Dennis the advantage.

It is expected that RJ Barrett, the Knicks third overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft, will be a starting player this season. There are plenty of challenges for him to overcome, and they will be displayed on the court daily. His lack of experience will limit the ultimate success the Knicks can have, but their depth might be able to supplement some of his deficiencies.

The players coming off the bench—Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, Noah Vonleh, Payton and Ntilikina.

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Second-round pick, Ignas Brazdeikis, has also looked impressive this off-season giving him a potential shot at playing time in 2019-20.

The reality is, the Knicks don’t have any superstars on their team after losing out to Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but they do have plenty of productive players that can compensate to a degree. While the playoffs might be an optimistic goal at this point, they have the potential to raise a few eyebrows down the stretch.

New York Yankees: Weekly Recap + ESM Yankee Players of the Week for 7/29-8/4

New York Yankees, Domingo German

Weekly Recap:

After winning only one of four games at Fenway Park last week, the New York Yankees returned home hoping to regain momentum. After splitting a two-game series with Arizona, the legendary rivalry resumed in the Bronx, though the story would be very different this time. The Yankees would sweep the series, sending Boston plummeting further down in the standings, dropping to 14.5 games back after Sunday’s finale.

The sweep was huge, not just in terms of the standings, but also in showing that the starting rotation is improving. James Paxton, Domingo German, and J.A. Happ all went at least five innings and got wins in their respective starts in this series.

Torres, Ursehla avoid I.L.:

While the Yankees relished in finishing off the sweep on Sunday, it came with a couple of brief injury scares. Gleyber Torres, who was 0-3 with a walk on Sunday, was taken out in the eighth inning with what the team called a “core issue.” Not too long afterward, Eusebio Torres, Gleyber’s father, tweeted:

Translated from Spanish, the tweet reads:

“After the scare tonight, GT is leaving the hospital and everything is fine, the bus waits for him, and they go straight to Baltimore.”

Most likely as a precaution, Torres played the following day against Baltimore as the DH. Torres going to the I.L. would have been another significant blow to the Yankees. They already lost both Aaron Hicks (strained flexor tendon in right elbow) and Edwin Encarnacion (right wrister fracture) last Saturday.

Gio Urshela was also banged up on Sunday after fouling a pair of pitches off his left shin and right knee. He did not play in the first game against Baltimore.

Sanchez to go on rehab assignment:

According to manager Aaron Boone, catcher Gary Sanchez will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday. Following games on Wednesday and Thursday, the all-star catcher will rejoin the Yankees sometime this weekend in Toronto. Sanchez has been on the 10-day I.L. since July 24 with a Grade 1 Left Groin Strain. This is his third I.L. stint due to groin injuries in the past two seasons.

 

And now, with that out of the way, it is now time for this weeks…

Empire Sports Media’s Yankee Players of the Week:

James Paxton & Domingo German:

Paxton:

Vs. Boston (8/2): W, 6.0 Innings, 2 Hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO

German:

Vs. Boston (8/3): W, 7.0 Innings, 5 Hits, 2 ER, 7 SO

That’s right, the Big Maple and the Ant are ESM’s first-ever Yankee Co-Players of the Week! Both starters turned in quality starts in back-to-back days against the Red Sox, helping the Yankees to a four-game series sweep.

Paxton kicked off the series with his typical first-inning troubles, allowing a two-run home run to J.D. Martinez. After a Gleyber Torres grand slam in the bottom half of the first, Paxton settled down, allowing only one hit and two walks from the second inning on, finishing with six innings of two-run ball and six strikeouts. This was a huge redemption start for Paxton after getting shelled for seven runs in four innings during his last start at Fenway Park.

The next day, German had arguably one of his best starts of the season in game one of a doubleheader. Despite giving up solo shots to Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradly Jr., German tossed seven innings of two-run ball with seven strikeouts. This start helped keep the bullpen fresh, as the Yankees deployed Chad Green as an opener in the nightcap.

Honorable Mentions (In no order):

Gleyber Torres:

6 games, 5-24 (.208), 3 HR, 7 RBI, .667 SLG%

Despite hitting just over .200 for the week, Gleyber Torres contributed to the sweep of the Red Sox. In game one, down 2-0, Torres took Eduardo Rodriguez deep for a go-ahead salami, capping off the offense for both teams. The next day, in the nightcap of a doubleheader, Torres knocked a pair of solo shots as part of a 3-for-5 night scoring three runs.

Mike Tauchman:

5 games, 5-17 (.313), 1 HR, 6 RBI, .353 OBP%

The sockman continues to show why GM Brian Cashman may just know what he’s doing despite the opinions of some Yankee fans. After Sunday’s game, Tauchman has slashed .372/.433/.617/1.050 with four home runs and 22 RBI since May 5.

J.A. Happ:

Vs. Boston (8/4): W, 5.2 Innings, 7 Hits, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO

While Happ’s stat line in his latest start isn’t fantastic, he was cruising through the first four innings, allowing only two hits during that span. It was one of his better starts of the year, and the Yankees are now 15-7 in Happ’s started in 2019.

Tommy Kahnle:

1-0, 3.0 Innings, 0.00 ERA, 4 SO, 2 Hits, 1 BB

Kahnle continues his resurgent 2019 with an excellent month of July overall. In 12 July appearances, the righty allowed only one earned run, good for a 0.77 ERA during that span. He also struck out 17 and held opposing batters to a .128 BAA. Due to his strong month, Kahnle was named the American League Reliever of the Month for July.

Gio Urshela:

5 games, 7-18 (.389), .421 OBP%

 

New York Jets: Jets vs Giants Preseason Week 1 Preview

New York Jets

The wait is over, New York Jets football is finally back. The Jets finally play their first opponent of the 2019 NFL season. Sure, it may just be preseason but it’s nice to see the Jets get on the field against people who are not wearing green and white. The New York Giants will be hosting the Jets in the annual “Snoopy Bowl” this year at MetLife Stadium this Thursday to see who will have bragging rights until week 10 when both teams meet again for round 2. Obviously, neither team will have their stars out, but it is a very good opportunity for players who aren’t guaranteed a spot on the roster a chance to shine. What better way for the New York Jets to start their new era of football by beating their bigger brother for a chance to finally reign supreme. Here are some things to look out for this Thursday night.

What to expect from Adam Gase?

Adam Gase got a second chance to be a head coach in this league and he doesn’t intend on messing it up. There are many reasons Gase wasn’t successful in Miami but probably the biggest reason was the fact he didn’t know how to call plays. Adam Gase has a history of doing very short yardage throws on second and long and third and long. This can’t happen here in New York. Adam Gase has gone on record before stating that he wants to be more aggressive in his play-calling, and what better way to experiment than in the preseason against a young, up and coming Giants secondary. If Adam Gase wants to avoid being a failure in New York, he must do the opposite of everything he did in Miami.

Position battles to look for

The preseason is the best way to test for players who are battling for a starting or backup role on the roster. The New York Jets certainly do not have a shortage of battles going on and these are some to keep an eye out for.

Tight end

The Jets are pretty set at tight end this year but with Chris Herndon missing the first four weeks due to suspension the Jets will have to see which one of their young tight ends can fill in and be a reliable target for Sam Darnold. The two main competitors are Daniel Brown and Trevon Wesco. Wesco seems to have the upper hand against Brown because he’s had a very good training camp with the team.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wesco listed as the starting tight end at the beginning of the year.

QB No. 3

The Jets have another QB battle going on this year, thankfully not for the starting spot. The Jets are looking for someone to groom into a backup for Sam Darnold the next couple of years. Luke Falk and Davis Webb are the two guys the Jets are looking at. Falk has had a history with Adam Gase being the third-string QB in Miami last year until he landed on the IR October 5th. Davis Webb, on the other hand, has no relation to Adam Gase but he does have a pedigree that Falk doesn’t. Webb was a third-round pick for the Giants back in 2017 and shows potential. Webb Hoists a howitzer for an arm but doesn’t have the accuracy to match up with it. It’ll be interesting to see which QB will edge out because as of right now there isn’t a clear front runner.

Kicker

The Jets currently have just one kicker on the roster, Chandler Catanzaro. So, who is Catanzaro competing with you might ask? The answer is Catanzaro is competing with himself. Catanzaro is having one of the worst camps this year missing a lot of kicks. The Jets have had a hole at kicker ever since Nick Folk left the team back in 2016. The Jets have lucked out with their kicker situation the past couple of years getting castoffs like Jason Meyers and Catanzaro to have good years, but this might be the end of that little streak. If Catanzaro continues to struggle don’t be surprised to see Joe Douglas seek another kicker when cuts are being made. A couple of names to watch are players like Mason Crosby and the training camp favorite from 2016 and 2017 Ross Martin.

Potential diamonds in the rough

The Jets have had their fair share of training camp standouts this year and they’ll finally get to show off what they can really do against the actual competition. This is where you find players like Robby Anderson who a couple of years ago was in the same position as many of the young players grinding for a spot on the 53. A couple of names to watch are players like Tim White, Kyron Brown, Blake Cashman and Derrick Jones.

 

 

Does Marcus Morris make the New York Knicks a playoff-caliber team?

New York Knicks, Marcus Morris

Can Marcus Morris be the catalyst behind a successful New York Knicks team next season?

The New York Knicks spent a majority of their available cap-space on veteran free agents, despite losing out on superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

While they won’t feature some of the NBA’s top talent in 2019, they gained several key pieces that could help them contend for a playoff spot. Ultimately, it comes down to the youth players and if they can produce far more than in 2018.

Earning just 17 total wins, they will need to be in the 40-win range to even be considered for a playoff spot. Who on the Knicks will represent that extra bit of quality to push them over the edge? Julius Randle, perhaps, or maybe one of the youngsters — RJ Barrett or Kevin Knox?

I believe it will be Marcus Morris, a savvy veteran who has the talent and experience to not only produce from himself but to help others as well.

Marcus was an integral part of Boston’s team last season, recording career bests in rebounds (6.1) and three-point field goals made (146) while averaging double-figured in points-per-game. He started 53 games in 75 appearances for Boston, averaging 13.9 points and 1.5 assists over 27.9 minutes.

Morris can play both the power forward and small forward positions, giving him a bit of diversity in how head coach David Fizdale can utilize his talent.

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I imagine him being a great mentor for players like Knox and Barrett while proving his worth on the court. He spurred the San Antonio Spurs on a two-year deal in favor of a one-year, $15 million deal with the Knicks. An interesting move by Morris, who clearly prefers the extreme weather of the East Coast. It was reported that the Clippers were offering him a $41 million deal, so it’s hard to believe the money played the largest factor, which was seemingly why the Knicks convinced him to come to Madison Square Garden.

Nonetheless, he brings plenty of tangibles traits to a team that lacked a true veteran. His influence will be significant during the 2019-20 season.

New York Giants could have one of the best young defensive fronts

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill

The New York Giants released their first unofficial depth chart of the offseason on Tuesday before Thursday’s preseason matchup against the Jets.

The team is filled with talented youth, and while they might struggle in 2019, there’s hope for the future. The defensive line is one of the more exciting position groups on the team, as Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill and Dexter Lawrence man the trenches.

Tomlinson is the veteran of the group going into his third season. He’s expected to finally reach his potential and perform at a high level against the run. He’s not the purest pass-rusher — Lawrence seems to have him beat in that category, but he offers excellent value in other facets.

Hill, who displayed flashes of dominance in his rookie season, is primed for a breakout year after recording 48 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits in 2018. There’s a reason to believe that the front three of a James Bettcher 3-4 defense will be one of the more exciting, up-and-coming units in the league.

New York Giants: Tomlinson believes Hill is on the right track towards success:

“You can just tell B.J. is more comfortable this year just running different games and just playing beside him in the run game. He’s more patient with things, like playing run blocks and things like that. B.J. is playing pretty well this year, too,” Tomlinson told reporters on Monday.

Dexter Lawrence, a 6-foot-4, 345-pound behemoth of a man, is also carrying the weight of success on his shoulders. Dalvin also raved about his insane athleticism for his size.

“It’s super unique, just to be that big and that athletic is amazing to see when you’re playing right beside him,” Tomlinson said of Lawrence. “I’ve never seen anybody near as big move that well.”

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Something the defense seems to have this season is brotherhood and chemistry. With so much youth and inexperience tainting the group, it’s only fair to expect hurdles, but they have come together to tackle them as a collective unit and develop a new atmosphere.

“The brotherhood and camaraderie of the defense we have right now is just crazy. The unity and the energy we bring to the field and coming out of the locker room each and every day,” Tomlinson said.

 

New York Yankees: Luke Voit Injury Update

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

New York Yankees’ young slugger Luke Voit was diagnosed with a sports hernia after going through an MRI a few weeks ago whereafter he was placed on the 10-day injured list. This injury could require the Yankee first basemen to undergo surgery which would make him miss around six weeks. However, the decision for surgery would probably have been made already so there is hope for Voit.

A few days ago on August 2nd, it was reported that Voit received a cortisone injection and will be re-evaluated next week to determine if surgery is needed, per Lindsay Adler of The Athletic. This shot is ultimately used to lessen pain and inflammation in a specific area of the body. Teammate Giancarlo Stanton was given a cortisone shot earlier in the year for his shoulder injury and returned to play not too long after.

Voit met with Meredith Marakovits for YESNetwork where he said, “Honestly I’m feeling really good, so I’m pretty optimistic.” When asked about the possibility of coming back for the playoffs if he underwent the surgery he continued, “I would say it’s uncertain, it’s about a six-week timetable so it’d be right around it. It just depends on when I get it or if I get it. Hopefully, I don’t have to get it and maybe I can do it in the offseason.”

What is a sports hernia?

The cause of a sports hernia is from athletic activities that involve planting the feet and twisting with maximum exertion which can cause a tear in the soft tissue of the lower abdomen or groin (OrthoInfo). Pretty much every movement in baseball involves twisting and planting the feet (ex. hitting and throwing). Essentially, a sports hernia is a strain or tear of any soft tissue in the lower abdomen and groin area.

This Day in Yankees History: A-Rod Announces Retirement

New York Yankees’ slugger Alex Rodriguez was with the club for 12 seasons before he decided to announce his retirement from Major League Baseball on August 7th, 2016. He met with media that day where he said, “I love this game, and I love this team. Today, I’m saying goodbye to both. I never thought I could play for 22 years.”

Struggling to say these words as he was fighting back tears, you could see how much A-Rod loved playing in the Bronx. It was always believed that when he was apart of the Rangers and Mariners, Rodriguez wanted to be in pinstripes playing with his close pal Derek Jeter and the rest of that legendary squad.

Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, six of those selections representing the New York Yankees. He won the MVP award three times (2003, 2005, 2007), twice as a Yank. A-Rod won one World Series ring with the Yankees during the 2009 magical season.

Statistically, A-Rod goes down as one of the best players in baseball history and definitely Yankee history. However, many baseball fans will argue that. With his run-in with Performance-enhancing drugs, his 696 home runs and 3115 hits are overlooked. Another thing to note about Rodriguez’s ignorance of the MLB drug policy, it will most likely prevent him from entering the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Regardless of the decisions he made, Alex Rodriguez is one of the best to ever wear pinstripes and to walk on a ball field. A-Rod is still around the game, however, and continues his career with broadcasting Sunday night baseball for ESPN.