New York Giants: Blake Martinez Absent In Practice With Unknown Reason

New York Giants, Blake Martinez, McManus Designs

New York Giants fans might have a reason to raise an eyebrow at the team’s new signing Blake Martinez, because the linebacker was absent from practice on Thursday and the reason why is currently unknown. While the team knows, that reason hasn’t reached the public yet.

From the way that Joe Judge described it, it doesn’t sound like too serious of an issue. Though, Judge did say that more info could come out in the future, indicating that there may or may not be a problem.

Joe Judge gives insight on the absence

“He’s just checking with the trainers on something. At this moment right here, I’m not overly concerned. He’s just kind of checking on something right now. We’ll let you know more information as we go,” Judge told the media about Martinez’s absence.

There’s a chance there’s nothing serious and we’ll see Martinez on the field again soon. But there’s also a chance that the trainers do find something, and if so, it would be a stroke of bad luck for the Giants. The team has already suffered an injury to David Mayo, who was expected to compete for a spot next to Martinez this season.

Now Martinez has missed a practice to check something with the trainers, Mayo is out injured, and his competitor Ryan Connelly is coming back from his own injury. It’s really not a lucky year for the Giants defense, which also lost Xavier McKinney for months because of injury.

Of course, there’s a chance that Martinez simply has the kind of minor injury scare that happens all the time in the NFL and that players walk back from easily. With a lot riding on Martinez and his future contributions to the linebacker spot this year, hopefully the absence is as simple as that.

New York Mets and Miami Marlins Postpone Game in Demonstration

New York Mets

The 15 minutes of the SNY telecast between the New York Mets and Miami Marlins was what seemed like an eternity of eerieness and suspense. It looked like a standard game, with all the players in uniform and even stretching before the 7:10 start, but things changed instantly.

For the time between 7:00 and 7:10, players from both teams were outside their dugouts, and some on the field performing pre-game routines. Michael Wacha had not thrown a warmup pitch at any point, which made it evident at that point that there would be no baseball.

The Long Five Minutes

During the time between 7:10 and 7:15, the Mets were led out of the dugout by Dominic Smith and Billy Hamilton, the two black players on the active Mets roster. Their infielders warmed up, while Wacha and catcher Wilson Ramos just stood there watching for leadoff hitter Lewis Brinson to be announced.

After Brinson stepped into the box, Wacha stepped off the mound, and players from both teams lined up in front of their respective dugouts. They removed their caps and took a 42 second moment of silence on the eve of Jackie Robinson Day, which is celebrated by all teams on Friday.

After the 42 seconds ended, both teams tipped their caps to themselves and walked off the field. A lone “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt was left on home plate by Brinson and displayed on the scoreboard.

Brodie’s Face Turn

A leak from about 6 p.m. showed Brodie Van Wagenen discussing an idea Rob Manfred had for the players to leave the field at 7:10 p.m. then return to play an hour later. He criticized Manfred’s leadership ability saying, “he just doesn’t get it.”  After it broke, Van Wagenen released a press release saying it was Jeff Wilpon’s idea but with the corruption between Wilpon and Manfred, who knows who is being truthful.

Throughout the chaoticness of today, what both teams did are getting attention. Whatever emotion it made you feel, it did exactly what their goal was…create emotion and continue the conversation. Friday’s doubleheader is still up in the air, but if they play, game one against the New York Yankees starts at 4:10 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. Michael Wacha likely takes the mound against Jordan Montgomery.

New York Giants: Rookie Offensive Tackles Cross Training In Practice

The New York Giants drafted two offensive tackles in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. Big Blue selected Andrew Thomas out of Georgia with the fourth overall pick in the first round. They then followed that up with Matt Peart out of UConn in the third round.

Thomas is a polished prospect who will be prepared to start day one for the Giants. Peart, on the other hand, might need to take some time to develop. The ninety-ninth overall selection in the draft is not likely to be a week one starter on the Giants’ offensive line this season.

Andrew Thomas will be a week one starter, presumably. The question with Thomas now, is, where will he start on the offensive line? Will he be the team’s left tackle or right tackle?

Where Will Andrew Thomas Line Up?

After 2019’s starting offensive tackle Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season, it seemed likely that Andrew Thomas would step into the starting left tackle position. But there were some fans advocating for Thomas to play right tackle, instead, even before and after Solder opted out.

This line of thinking pencils Thomas in as the team’s left tackle for the foreseeable future, while planning to move ahead with Matt Peart as the team’s right tackle down the road. But after the Giants’ recent practices, this scenario does not seem set in stone.

While the likely scenario sees Thomas at left tackle and Peart at right tackle, there is another scenario where the two players swap positions. The Giants are preparing for this scenario, giving the offensive tackles practice reps on both sides of the line.

According to Ryan Dunleavy, Matt Peart was working at left tackle today:

Versatility on the offensive line is crucial. The Giants recognize this and are training their rookie tackles to be prepared to play on either side of the offensive line.

New York Islanders: Greiss or Varlamov for Game 3?

Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have a real lineup decision for the first time in 5 months. Should Semyon Varlamov or Thomas Greiss get the start in the net? Varlamov got blown up in game 2 but has been solid during the bubble. Greiss is the fresher goalie, even though he just fought off 20+ shots in game 2. This decision is the biggest decision Barry Trotz has had to make in his entire tenure with the Islanders. Game 3 is a gamechanger in many ways. Whoever wins not only takes a 2-1 lead in the series but rolls with tons of momentum into game 4. Who’s the better choice to lead the Isles to a 2-1 series lead?

Why Semyon Varlamov Should Start

Semyon Varlamov is one of the best goalies in all of the bubble. If you take away this game, he had a 1.50 GAA with a .941 save percentage. Sadly, you can’t just forget about a game like this. Varlamov was beaten stick side three times and put the team in a hole very early on. Even though he had a bad game, Varlamov left the game around 6-7 minutes into the game, so he’s a fresh body for game 3. Varlamov is most likely ready to go back out there and show that his past performances weren’t flukes. The team and the fans respect and feel comfortable when “Varly” is in the net.

Why Thomas Greiss Should Start

Thomas Greiss was nothing short of excellent today, even though the Islanders came up short. Greiss’ only mistake of the game, wasn’t even his fault, it bounced off Anders Lee and sadly went in. Greiss is also a fresh body, even though he just played basically a full game. Thomas Greiss is a veteran goalie with a ton of playoff experience. There’s no reason for Greiss not to play other than Varlamov being the more talented goalie.

Conclusion

Whoever Barry Trotz chooses, the team must deliver tomorrow. There is no excuse to lose to the Flyers. The Islanders have and will continue to be the better team.

New York Liberty release statement amidst WNBA’s “day of reflection”

The New York Liberty have released a statement in support of social justice in the midst of Thursday’s postponements in the WNBA.

The New York Liberty have released a statement in the wake of ongoing demonstrations against racial injustice across the professional sports leagues of the United States.

The statement opens with the names of African-American victims of systemic racism and how long it has has been since the respective crimes. Perpetrators of the crimes in question, particularly have yet to face legal repercussions.

“While we will not take the court today, we will continue to stay loud in our pursuit of justice. The New York Liberty organization stand in solidarity with our players and demand justice for #JacobBlake, #GeorgeFloyd, #BreonnaTaylor, #AhmaudArbery, and the many human lives affected by brutal police encounters. We will not be silenced. All lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.”

New York was originally set to play on Thursday night against the Dallas Wings, but the WNBA has confirmed that no games will be held. Three games were scheduled for Thursday in the league’s Bradenton bubble, including one between the Chicago and Indiana and a late-night tilt featuring Las Vegas and Seattle. All postponed games, including three others from Wednesday, will be rescheduled.

Thursday was set to be the Liberty’s annual “UNITY Day” game, with a special focus on social justice. The team hosted a panel on Wednesday late afternoon, featuring guard Layshia Clarendon. New York was among the country’s first professional sports teams to publicly advocate for social justice, wearing warm-up shirts reading “#BlackLivesMatter” prior to a 2016 game.

Each of the WNBA’s dozen teams has worn uniforms bearing the name of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville police officers executing a no-knock search warrant. The officers in question have not been arrested.

“As the injustices persist, so does the work,” the statement says. “Today marks what should have been the Liberty’s 4th annual UNITY Day game which is devoted to telling Breonna Taylor’s story and highlighting the #SayHerName campaign. In light of today’s protest, our UNITY Day will be rescheduled at a later date.”

Clarendon was among WNBA representatives who spoke with ESPN’s Holly Rowe about the decision not to play. Each of the players present wore shirts calling for the arrest of Taylor’s killers. The team has united with the #SayHerName campaign for thier 2020 bubble proceedings to spread awareness and information of racial injustice and to encourage voting in national and local elections.

“It is important to note that this is not a strike, this is not a boycott. This is affirmatively a day of reflection, a day of informed action and mobilization,” Los Angeles Sparks forward and WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike said. “Today, we call upon Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to arrest the officers that killed Breonna Taylor. Today, we call upon Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to investiage the officers that were involved in the shooting of Jacob Blake.”

Those stationed at the Bradenton bubble also hosted a players-only meeting and candlelit vigil.

Members of the Liberty have continued to speak out against racial injustice throughout the year. The incident involving Blake in Kenosha, Minnesota has been no exception.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Two offensive breakout candidates

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

The New York Jets have some familiar faces, on both sides of the ball, that can be expected to perform a certain way. There are some guys who have to prove themselves again, as well. Whatever their situation is, any of them can have a breakout season. However, some are more likely than others. So, here are two offensive candidates for a potential breakout season:

Le’Veon Bell

Bell was a big-name addition for this team last season. After a remarkable career with the Steelers, fans were hoping all of his skill and excitement would be translated in green and white. That didn’t necessarily happen. Now, Bell wasn’t “bad” in any sense, but his numbers weren’t on par with his Pittsburgh ones.

Le’Veon finished the 2019 season with 789 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground while adding 66 receptions for 461 yards and 1 touchdown. Those numbers are far down from his last season in Pittsburgh in 2017. That season he totaled 1,291 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns and 85 receptions for 655 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Yes, his yardage was drastically down, but he was probably expected to have a slight dropoff in that category. After all, he did sit out the entire 2018 season. For me, though, the biggest concern was the touchdown amount. For someone who is getting as much money as he is, the ball needs to be in the endzone more. Sure, the offense needs to move the ball more efficiently down the field to have more scoring chances, but there were opportunities to have more than 3 rushing touchdowns last season.

Le’Veon Bell has seemed extremely motivated and excited about the upcoming season. He has been seen doing intense workouts on social media and was really showing his excitement in this recent tweet from the New York Jets:

Bell has also predicted, via Twitter, that this season will be one of his best. That sure would be fantastic for fans and the team, who desperately needs Le’Veon to be a big part of this offense. With all of the skill, motivation and drive that Bell has, he could be in store for a big, breakout season.

Chris Herndon

Chris Herndon dealt with injuries all of last year and played in only one game as a result. As a rookie, he appeared in all 16 games, starting 12 of them. In that rookie season, he totaled 39 receptions for 502 yards and 4 touchdowns. Aside from the numbers, though, he showed tremendous upside and ability as a playmaker. His raw talent is evident, but he needs to stay on the field. If he does, he can really be special.

The third-year tight end has nowhere to go but up this season. If he stays on the field, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to be a breakout player. I’m sure Jets fans wouldn’t mind seeing him make plays like this again:

Since Ryan Griffin had a solid season last year with Sam Darnold, Herndon may have to fight for the right to a majority of the targets. Even if he gets fewer targets to some degree, he’s still capable of much more production. He’s a better athlete with more big-play ability. The season could very well be a breakout one for Herndon if he has the ability to show what he can do for the New York Jets.

New York Giants 8/27 practice takeaways: Injuries, signings, dimes, more!

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

With the sports world up in arms, this week, teams and players across every league have taken a stand against racial injustices.

While the team spoke about societal issues behind closed doors, they were active during practice, attempting to gain a competitive advantage when the regular season starts in about three weeks. The New York Giants went through plenty of drills, as they will have an intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday at MetLife Stadium. This is a way to supplement the loss of preseason games, and it will be aired on television for fans to watch.

Individual player updates:

David Mayo: meniscus trim, expected to miss three weeks at least

Xavier McKinney: Out until week 12 BYE week, at least

Darius Slayton: Returned to practice, looked good

Ryan Connelly: Limited work

Spencer Pulley: Sat out of practice on the site

Signings:

The Giants signed running back Tavien Feaster and waived wide receiver, Tony Brown.

Notes:

The biggest takeaways of the practice was third-round pick, Matt Peart, earning reps at left tackle with Andrew Thomas spending some time on the right side. His improvement has been encouraging so far during camp, indicating that he could earn starting reps at some point during the 2020 season. Ideally, Peart will be given plenty of time to develop and refine his technique coming from the University of Connecticut.

Offensively, Evan Engram battled with safety Jabrill Peppers, catching a touchdown in the red zone drill. However, Peppers walked away with a pass defended in a two-minute drill.

There is plenty of positives to go around, and the Giants have been working out multiple players at kick returner. The options they’re looking at include Javon Leake, Corey Coleman, Darnay Holmes, and Derrick Dillon.

One underrated receiver, David Sills, scored a touchdown pass from Daniel Jones during the red zone periods. Sills has looked phenomenal since joining the Giants’ practice squad last year. He’s pushing for an active roster spot and could push Austin Mack out of the way with his recent consistent.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge suffers injury setback, here’s the latest

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Following last night’s loss against the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Aaron Judge could possibly be headed back to the Injured List after being removed early from the second game of the doubleheader. The club is going to reevaluate him today and make a decision from there.

First reported by Marly Rivera, Judge apparently tightened his calf while rounding second base. Boone said, “Doesn’t seem to be serious, but we’ll see tomorrow.”

A week ago Judge told the media that he was feeling 100% and was ready to get back in the lineup. It’s difficult to say if this injury was rushed or if he just reaggravated it again.

Judge was having a great year before having this injury stint. He’s currently batting .290 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs in just 17 games.

The Yankees are notorious for having injury problems and this year isn’t any different. DJ LeMahieu, James Paxton, Gleyber Torres, Zack Britton, Giancarlo Stanton, and Kyle Higashioka are all out for at least a couple more weeks. Star pitchers Tommy Kahnle and Luis Severino are both out for the whole season with Tommy John.

The Bombers have lost the last five games they’ve played, being swept in the last two series. They fall to a 16-11 record and after being atop comfortably in the AL East for the first few weeks of the season, the Yankees are now second behind the Tampa Bay Rays.

New York Jets trade for Miami RB Kalen Ballage (Report)

Kalen Ballage

After two seasons in with the Dolphins, Ballage will reportedly reunite with Adam Gase via a trade to the New York Jets.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the New York Jets are sending over a conditional late-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for rusher Kalen Ballage. Specific terms of the deal have yet to be announced.

Ballage, 24, left the Dolphins’ training camp practice early on Wednesday in Davie and was set to be released by the Dolphins before the Jets reportedly stepped in.

The 24-year-old entered the league as a fourth-round pick (131st overall) out of Arizona State. Collegiately, Ballage is best known for scoring a Football Bowl Subdivision Record eight touchdowns for the Sun Devils in their 2016 win over Texas Tech.

The trade reunites Ballage with New York Jets head coach Adam Gase, who oversaw his rookie season with the Dolphins. Ballage burst onto the scene in the late stages of 2018, tallying 123 yards on 12 carries in a December tilt against Minnesota. The big day was punctuated by a 75-yard scoring rush that opened the second half.

“That long run he had, that’s how he runs every day. That’s how he finishes every day,” Gase said after the Minnesota game, per Alain Poupart of MiamiDolphins.com “There’s a reason why he’s able to do that and was confident to just gas it and run by everybody because every day in practice we watch the same thing. When he gets a carry with the offense, he finishes in the end zone. It’s a good trait to have.”

His debut season ended with 191 yards and a 5.3 average.

He took on an increased role with six starts during the 2019 season but dealt with a leg injury and struggles, seeing his average drop to 1.8. Ballage has also earned 119 yards on 23 receptions during his Dolphins tenure.

While trading for Ballage, who was set to be let go as is, makes sense from a familiarity standpoint (having worked with Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in Miami), the rushers’ room has gotten a little crowded. Incumbent starter Le’Veon Bell is set to return, and the Jets also added veteran Frank Gore this offseason. Gore previously worked with Ballage in Miami during the 2018 season.

The team also chose Florida alum Lamical Perine in the fourth round of April’s draft. Veteran reserve Josh Adams also returns and undrafted Monmouth-produced rookie Pete Guerriero was signed earlier this week.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC: Georges St. Pierre believes he would be at a disadvantage fighting Khabib at lightweight

george st pierre

The most dominant champion in the UFC will be making his return in October. Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) is taking on Justin Gaethje (22-2) on Fight Island to determine who is the best lightweight in the world.

Nurmagomedov has said that if he defeats Gaethje at UFC 254, he would want one more fight before he calls it a career. He believes that finishing 30-0 would be the perfect way to cap off his hall of fame career.

If Khabib defeats Gaethje, he has said that he wants to fight Georges St. Pierre (26-2) in 2021. Khabib’s coach Javier Mendez has said that a fight between the two would settle who is the greatest fighter in MMA History.

A fight with Khabib is one that the former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion would come out of retirement for. However, GSP doesn’t believe it would be to his advantage to fight at lightweight.

Chasing a third UFC title

As you can see from his interview with BT Sport, GSP says that at 39, he would be at disadvantage when it comes to weight and age. Despite those, I think he would still chase this fight if the UFC was willing to make it happen.

GSP would get the opportunity to do something that no one in the history of the UFC has done. Not one fighter has captured a title in three weight classes. If GSP moved down to lightweight to dethrone Khabib, he would accomplish history.

Right now, the GOAT debate seems to center around Jon Jones and Georges St. Pierre. If GSP moved down to defeat at 29-0 Khabib, to me he would win the argument. Yes, Jones has never lost yet, but how could you deny the accomplishments of Georges St. Pierre.

I would personally love to see the UFC make this fight if Khabib gets through Gaethje in October. I will say, I wish the fight could have happened when GSP was a few years younger. While still in amazing shape, one has to wonder how GSP would do against the younger champion.

It would be a fascinating fight on a number of levels. The only way the UFC would make this fight happen is if Nurmagomedov says that he will definitely retire afterwards. Both men could walk away win or lose which would allow the UFC to then move on with the lightweight division.