New York Jets VIDEO: Sam Darnold takes the court with Klay Thompson

Set to return to the gridiron, the New York Jets quarterback hit the hardwood alongside a fellow Golden State sports legend.

If anyone in the NBA’s Orlando bubble needs any help over the next few weeks, Sam Darnold may be on hand to assist.

In video posted by Instagram user @ChrisBennett143, the New York Jets quarterback and two of his passing counterparts traded in the pigskin for the roundball alongside NBA All-Star Klay Thompson. Known for throwing six-pointers, Darnold tosses up several triples from long-range alongside the Golden State Warriors’ shooting guard. Darnold is continuing to prepare for the upcoming NFL season alongside Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Kyle Allen of Washington (no relation). The trio has been working with former draft pick Jordan Palmer (brother of Carson) in California.

Darnold’s basketball prowess shouldn’t come as any surprise. Like Thompson, Darnold got his athletic start on Southern California’s high school scene. He was a two-sport athlete at San Clemente High School and his basketball accolades include league MVP honors. His high school coach Marc Popovich believed that Darnold could’ve played college basketball in the Pac-12 Conference and that his hoops prowess helped his case on the football field.

“Basketball, a lot of times, especially with our style of play, was kind of free-flowing in a way,” Popovich said to Alex Kirshner of SB Nation in November 2016. “There was not necessarily something set every single time down, so he had to get used to playing that way. I think that definitely helped in football. He’d had those things where he’s had bad snaps and he’s rolled out and completed a 32-yard pass, and kind of ridiculous stuff like that. And I think in those improvising situations, the basketball really helps. The ability to read defenses, to see where your teammates are, all that stuff really translates.”

ESM’s own Dylan Price wrote about Darnold’s basketball exploits earlier this month.

Darnold instead shifted fully to football and threw for 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns over two seasons as the starter at the University of Souther California. That came several years after Thompson also burst onto the scene in the Pac-12 with the Washington State Cougars men’s basketball program. Thompson’s No. 1 was retired in Pullman during their January tilt against Oregon State.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC: Kamaru Usman Has Strong Words For Georges St-Pierre

The situation at the top of the UFC’s welterweight division might have just gotten more interesting. Kamaru Usman recently defended his belt against Jorge Masvidal, and the champion hasn’t waited long before deciding which opponent he wants to face next. Usman picked a fighter with name value to challenge – except, it isn’t any of the current usual contenders at 170 lbs.

The fighter that Usman called out is Georges St-Pierre, the legendary former champion who was last seen almost three years ago winning the middleweight belt against Michael Bisping. The return had many fans excited to see what would happen next, after GSP exceeded expectations, but the fanbase would be left hanging as St-Pierre announced his retirement in 2019.

Usman doesn’t think that St-Pierre should remain retired.

What words did Usman have for GSP?

Calling out St-Pierre while speaking to TMZ, Usman challenged the former welterweight champion to another fight for the title.

“George can still do it. He proved it 2 years ago when he came back that he can still do it. I feel that he’s still able to do it, I feel like he’s still able to come in and be that opponent where people are unsure like, ‘You know what, we don’t know if Usman’s got this one.’ And I think Georges St-Pierre can be that guy,” Usman stated.

“I would love to test myself. I’m a martial artist just like he was a martial artist and if he still has some fire burning in that oven, let’s test it out!” Usman added.

But it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen GSP in the octagon, and there’s been no actual indication that GSP intends to come back. Some might consider it weak that Usman is targeting a fighter who has been out of action for a couple years and is currently 39 years old.

GSP’s legacy at welterweight already looks over, too. He hasn’t fought in the division since 2013 and when he once again won the belt, it was at middleweight and not welterweight.

With that being said, if the fight did ever happen, it could definitely have interesting outcomes – it would perhaps be one of the more interesting veteran against rising star bouts, as at the end of the day, GSP still has one of the best track records in UFC history despite age.

New York Giants will add competition at kicker after latest Aldrick Rosas news

New York Giants, Aldrick Rosas

“His hands, legs and bare feet … covered in blood.” Those were the words reported when New York Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas was found walking on the side of the highway after reportedly hitting a Ford pickup truck at over 100 mph in California.

Rosas is just one of the many issues tantalizing the NFC East, and according to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, the Giants’ kicker is scheduled to appear before the court on September 4.

The Giants want nothing to do with players dealing with legal issues, and that includes former first-round pick DeAndre Baker. Rosas, who is only 25 years old, has put his entire career in jeopardy, supposedly. If he is found guilty of these charges, it will be difficult for him to find a place in the NFL.

However, being arraigned on three misdemeanors is a bit interesting, especially if he was the one behind the wheel of the black Chevrolet that was swerving outside of the double yellow lines on a highway. Avoiding DUI charges could tell a different story, as License Plate Guy on Twitter has recently preached.

Nonetheless, the Giants will have to consider other options with training camp just around the bend.

Here are three kickers the New York Giants should consider in the meantime:

1.) Stephen Gostkowski

The former New England Patriot has ample experience with new head coach Joe Judge. He spent 14 seasons with the Pats, but his tenure ended last year.

Season-ending hip surgery was the final straw for New England, as he played in just four games. Despite his surgery, Gostkowski is one of the most efficient placekickers in the NFL. Giving him an opportunity on a minimum deal should be a no-brainer for the Giants.

2.) Nick Folk

Another NFL veteran, Nick Folk, could supplement the absence of Rosas as well. Folk is also a former Patriot, and he did spend seven games with the team in 2019. He made eight of his first 11 kicks but finished his time with the Pats hitting his final eight attempts.

He is a solid player with veteran experience, and I imagine the Giants could land him on an affordable deal.

3.) Ryan Succop

Succop spent the last six years of the Tennessee Titans, playing in every single game until last year where he played in just six. His disappointing 16.7% field goal rate was problematic, as he made just one of his first six attempts. He has been far more effective in past years, so inefficiency is certainly an outlier.

Giving him an opportunity to compete is not a bad idea and would likely cost the Giants next to nothing.

New York Knicks Newly Hired Head Coach Tom Thibodeau Could Run The Offense Through RJ Barrett

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks have a new franchise head coach and he’s no stranger to the organization. Tom Thibodeau has signed a five year deal to become the head coach for the New York Knicks after rumors circulated that former Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets Head Coach, Jason Kidd became the front runner for the vacant position on July 25th 2020. It is official. Now it may be possible that Tom Thibodeau runs the Knick offense through RJ Barrett. Will the former Maple Mamba’s basketball stock price rise drastically under ahead Coach Tom Thibodeau? Will the new coach run the offense through RJ Barrett?

Tom Thibodeau loves extremely competitive natured guys playing for him. We’ve seen certain players under Coach Thibs tutelage in the past who had that ultra-competitive characteristic, such as the Jimmy Butlers’ of the world along with Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, and even Joakim Noah.

Tom Thibodeau even had his imprint as a Knicks assistant during the Knicks 1999 NBA Championship push which also consisted of silent shooting assassin Allan Houston, scoring assassin Latrell Sprewell, Marcus Camby, Chris Childs, Larry Johnson, Charlie Ward, and Kurt Thomas just to name a few tough competitors. Every name I’ve just mentioned spent time under Tom Thibodeau and none of them backed down or feared anybody. Tom Thibodeau was under the tutelage of former Knick coach Jeff Van Gundy from 1996 until Jeff Van Gundy’s resignation in 2001. However, Thibodeau maintained his assistant position with the Knicks until 2004. The two have been in the trenches and have great respect for one another.

RJ Barrett fits that mold of toughness and grit. The former Duke Blue Devil doesn’t need a motor mentor, he’s already got it within and it shows on the court nightly. RJ Barrett proudly stated he’s built for New York City in an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith before he got drafted. Furthermore, if Tom Thibodeau can run an offense through former Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng and get positive results, what will happen if he decides to do the same with Barrett in his prime in two years from now.

RJ’s basketball growth may even be sooner depending upon Barrett’s pace of improvement going into his second year in the league. No worries there due to RJ’s tenacious work ethic. Tom Thibodeau got the most out of Jimmy Butler as well. Jimmy Butler’s upside was even lower than Barrett’s upon entering the league as a late first round draft pick by the Chicago Bulls in the summer of 2011. RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson are the cornerstones that’ll benefit greatly under the Knicks new coach.

Overall, RJ Barrett’s potential compatibility with Tom Thibodeau looks very promising. The former Canadian star may not be the only one on the roster benefitting with Thibs being hired, however, the 20 year old seems like an obvious candidate for swift improvement under the tutelage of Coach Thibodeau who is basically a well prepared NBA coach on a nightly basis. Tom Thibodeau will have the New York Knicks representing the blue-collar city properly and competing on a nightly basis by any means necessary.

New York Giants: Darnay Holmes Will Be Key Contributor To Team’s Secondary

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

In the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected three defensive backs. The Giants were lucky enough to steal safety Xavier McKinney in the second round, but they then added two cornerbacks later on in the draft. Darnay Holmes was selected in the fourth round and Chris Williamson was selected in the sixth round.

With those second and fourth-round selections, it appears that the Giants found two starting defensive backs in this year’s draft. McKinney was a first-round talent that will be an instant impact player in the Giants’ defense. But the biggest sleeper-selection for the Giants in 2020 was Darnay Holmes out of UCLA.

Why Holmes Should Start Immediately

One of the weakest positions on the Giants’ roster last season was at slot cornerback. Time and time again, Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, and any other corners who played that nickel position were seen trailing behind wide receivers, giving up big plays in coverage. Granted, Haley was excellent in run defense, however, he was a true liability in pass coverage.

With Darnay Holmes now on the roster, the slot cornerback position should not be a weakness anymore. Despite playing outside cornerback for the entirety of his collegiate career, Holmes projected as a nickel corner, so that is what he played at the 2020 Senior Bowl. Holmes turned heads, constantly making plays and impressing scouts in Mobile.

Holmes was projected to be a nickel cornerback due to his size. Darnay stands in at roughly 5 feet 10 inches and 195 pounds (but it would not be surprising if those numbers are a little high). A highly skilled player already, Darnay Holmes could be a day-one starter at the slot cornerback position. But Giants fans shouldn’t write him off as an outside cornerback just yet.

Darnay Holmes On The Outside

Despite being undersized, there are plenty of people who believe Darnay Holmes could succeed as an outside cornerback. This could be especially helpful with DeAndre Baker’s confusing legal situation that is still ongoing. The Giants might have a hole at their second outside cornerback position and Darnay Holmes could be the young man to fill that hole.

“Darnay Holmes projects best as a boundary corner in off-man coverage. Holmes’ stature is probably best suited for the nickel, but some pedestrian tackling enthusiasm suggests he’d thrive more in a true cover role.” – Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network

Preparing For The Season

Darnay Holmes spoke with Giants.com today, stating that he is “ready to rock” entering his rookie season:

“I’m pretty much sharpening my mind. At the end of the day, everyone is at the same skill set. Everybody is on the same playing field. Now it’s like, ‘How am I going to separate myself?’ I’m constantly placing people in my corner who have been in this realm, constantly educating myself about myself, educating myself about this game. So, once I step foot on that turf or on that grass, I’m ready to rock and I have that unwavering faith and belief in myself.” – Darnay Holmes via Giants.com

Yankees news: Opening Day contest vs. Washington in jeopardy

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

UPDATE: Team have been cleared to play in D.C.!

With just seven days remaining until Opening Day, the New York Yankees are still working hard to prepare. They will face off against the Washington Nationals, who won the World Series in 2019 over the Houston Astros. Gerrit Cole could be bringing over a few bad memories, as he will start the 60-game condensed season as the No. 1 pitcher for the Bombers.

The game is expected to take place in Washington on Thursday night next week, with Cole facing off against Max Scherzer. However, the city of Washington has not fully given them permission for the MLB to initiate the start of the regular season.

Due to the cities coronavirus regulations, the Nationals might have to find an alternative place to play. Alternative options include Fredericksburg, Virginia, or West Palm Beach in Florida. It is coming down to the final moment, and the Yankees will have to travel either way. It is a bit problematic considering New York is doing well with the virus and has it relatively contained. Florida remains affected significantly by COVID-19.

The Yankees are continuing their intrasquad exhibition games ahead of July 23, as Gerrit Cole well enjoy one more start on Friday evening. However, there’s plenty of work left to do with players like DJ LeMahieu coming back from testing positive with the virus and Aaron Judge shaking off a stiff neck. Then there is Masahiro Tanaka who took a line drive off his head and James Paxton who hasn’t seen much work since having a cyst removed from his lower back several months ago.

Nonetheless, with the expanded roster from 26 to 30 players, the Yankees have plenty of talent to supplement injuries. We’ve been keeping a close eye on Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada as a supplement for DJ, who expects to be ready for the regular season with just a week of training at his disposal.

UFC struggling to book Covington – Woodley

UFC, Colby Covington

One of the bigger potential grudge matches in the UFC would be Colby Covington (15-2) and Tyron Woodley (19-5-1). Per ESPN‘s Ariel Hewlani, the UFC was trying to book the fight for August which was confirmed by a Covington Instagram post.

Will the UFC make it happen?

As you can see from the post above, Covington and Woodley were offered to headline a UFC fight night on August 22nd.

Covington stated that Woodley was the one who would not agree to that date which was later confirmed by Woodley himself. T-Wood clarified his stance with Ariel Helwani.

“”My answer to whether I would fight Colby is eternally yes. . . At 96 years old in a nursing home it’s yes! He said no six times and now creates a date that works for him? F— out of here,” Woodley said in a text to Helwani.

Both men have a lot of heat between the two of them and both men are former UFC champions. Woodley is coming off back to back losses while Covington is coming off of the loss to Kamaru Usman.

I’m a little surprised that the UFC is going with Covington/Woodley as opposed to having Jorge Masvidal fight Covington. That fight to me makes more sense than this one.

Woodley has looked like a shell of himself in his last two fights, and I don’t see him fairing well against Covington. I think Covington’s pace and pressure would be way too much for Woodley to handle at this stage.

Looks like the UFC will try again to book this fight in September or October. It will definitely be a main event whenever it does/if it does get booked.

UFC: Is Khamzat Chimaev the next Khabib?

Last night, the UFC hosted their second successful event on Fight Island. The card delivered from top to bottom with great action.

There were many standouts on the card, but there was one fighter who stood above the rest in my opinion. That fighter was Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) who smashed John Phillips (22-10, 1 NC) for two rounds before submitting him with a D’Arce choke.

The UFC’s Khabib 2.0?

As Chimaev walked out last night, the commentators said that people compare him to UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0). Those are lofty comparisons for someone making their UFC debut.

However, it was apparent very early into the fight that the comparisons were warrented. Chimaev opened with a wild kick that transitioned beautifully to a takedown. Once on the ground, Chimaev unloaded shots on Phillips.

As Ariel Helwani tweeted, Chimaev landed 124 strikes in just over one round of action. I thought I was watching a bigger version of Nurmagomedov when I was watching Chimaev make his debut.

Chimaev has this ground aggressiveness about him where he wants to, “smash,” his opponents. It is very evident as to why the UFC wanted to pick him up.

From here, it’ll be interesting to see what the UFC does with Chimaev. Chimaev stated that he would like to fight at his normal weight class which is welterweight in his next fight. He even called out Donald Cerrone.

One thing is for sure, Chimaev is definitely a name to keep your eyes on. You can check out some of his highlights below.

New York Yankees: Matt Duffy and the value of defensive versatility

New York Yankees, Matt duffy

After the Tampa Bay Rays released him in November, Matt Duffy was officially looking for a job for the first time in years. The Texas Rangers came calling on January 30th, and the New York Yankees were interested, as well. He decided to go to the former based on greater possibilities of earning playing time, but couldn’t make the roster in the end and was left out of the Rangers’ 60-player pool.

But fortunately, the Yankees hadn’t forgotten about his name.

“It doesn’t always work out that way,” said Duffy, who signed a Minor League contract with the New York Yankees on June 28. “It was a very up-and-down couple hours. To get a call [from Rangers manager Chris Woodward] saying that you’re not coming to [Summer Camp] is not ideal. You start wondering where you’re going to be for the offseason, what you’re going to do in the meantime. To get the interest from the Yankees that was there in the offseason, I’m extremely thankful.”

While Yankees’ starting second baseman DJ LeMahieu will reportedly return to to camp this week, it is uncertain if he will be ready to defend his position on opening day next week. The Bombers have Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada and even Gio Urshela as available players at the position, but Duffy is in the mix, as well.

The Yankees value versatility

He is a natural third baseman but has some experience at second, shortstop, and even first base. He offers a league average bat (.282/.338/.380 career line with a 101 wRC+) and defensive versatility.

“Nowadays with modern shifting and infield play, I think you’ve got to see yourself as a defender in the infield,” Duffy said. “If you see yourself as a third baseman or as a shortstop, you’re keyholing yourself into one spot. As shortstop, you’re playing really all over the diamond on both sides of the bag. As a third baseman, you’re playing the entire left side.

“Coming from Tampa Bay, where they like to move guys around a lot and play matchups as much as possible, I got a lot of work at different positions — maybe not game reps, but it’s certainly not a place that I’m uncomfortable.”
Time will tell who will replace LeMahieu, in case he needs to be replaced, of course. However, the Yankees have one nice fallback option in Duffy.

New York Mets: Remembering what a healthy Yoenis Cespedes can do to a baseball

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes, the New York Mets‘ star that was behind the team rise to the World Series in 2015, hasn’t played in nearly two years. He has undergone multiple heel and ankle surgeries. However, people seem to have forgotten just how good the slugger was pre-injuries.

Thanks to a fantastic compilation of stats and analysis made by MLB.com’s David Adler, we find it easier to remember just how good the Cuban star is at hitting baseballs. A hint: he is very, very good.

Of course, it would be foolish for the New York Mets, and for fans, to expect 2015 production from Cespedes. After all, he hasn’t played since July 2018. Let’s take it easy with expectations. But if he is as healthy as he claims to be, watch out.

Per Adler, Cespedes said he’s ready to roll. He says that hitting Major League pitching is like “riding a bike,” which means that it could get some time to get used to, but you just don’t forget how to do it overnight.

The Mets masher

Upon arriving to the Mets on July 31, 2015, he played 59 games to end the year, which is roughly the equivalent of the 2020 season.

In that span, he hit 17 home runs, slug .604 with a .942 OPS and virtually carried the Mets’ offense into the postseason.

This year, he doesn’t have to carry the lineup all by himself. He has Pete Alonso to do that. But speaking of the Polar Bear, look at this comparison of each player’s peak performance in a 60-game span:

HR: Céspedes — 23 | Alonso — 22
RBIs: Céspedes — 61 | Alonso — 51
SLG: Céspedes — .687 | Alonso — .639
OPS: Céspedes — 1.041 Alonso — 1.022
wRC+: Céspedes — 183 | Alonso — 166

Cespedes may not be at his 2015 form this time around, but don’t discount him. He has hit 74 homers as a Mets’ player in 308 games, or nearly a 40-homers-per-season pace.

Let’s hope he’s healthy, because if he is, he could be a fantastic complementary piece for the Mets in their quest for the postseason.