BREAKING: Sam Darnold leaves New York Jets’ Thursday night game

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold left Thursday’s New York Jets game after taking a tough hit in the late stages of the first quarter. He later returned.

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold left Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos with an apparent shoulder injury.

After accumulating all but two yards on the Jets’ opening 75-yard trek to the end zone (including the final 46 on the ground in a jaw-dropping touchdown run), Darnold got the Jets to midfield on their second drive. However, on a second down, Darnold was the victim of a Shelby Harris sack that saw the defender slam the quarterback down on his throwing shoulder.

Darnold stayed in for the next play, a handoff to Frank Gore, but immediately walked to the sidelines. Since the medical tent was already occupied, Darnold was immediately escorted to the Jets’ locker room by team trainers and doctors as the first quarter ended. Joe Flacco, active for the first time on Thursday, came into the game to finish the drive, which ended in a Braden Mann punt.

After Denver took a 10-7 lead on a Jerry Jeudy touchdown catch, Flacco began the Jets’ next drive, but Darnold came in on the Jets’ final play. He was immediately sacked, but came out for the next set of downs after the defense forced a punt.

This story will be updated pending further developments.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Rangers’ Alexandar Georgiev pays homage to the King and the Warrior

New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev wrote a nice tribute to Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal on Thursday following a hectic week that saw the two long time players no longer with the hockey team.

Staal was traded to Detroit last week and Lundqvist was bought out by the club on Wednesday.

In his comments via his Instagram account, Georgiev said of the Lundqvist,  “What an absolute honor it has been being Hank’s goalie partner! Seeing that drive and competitiveness every day pushes everyone to be better. ”

With regards to Staal, Georgiev wrote, “Staalsy was a Warrior for us doing everything to help the team win!”

The pictures he chooses to post included one of him and Lundqvist in their home blue jersey’s, another of when they battled against one another when Georgiev paid for Team Russia and Hank for Team Sweden.  The third was a phot of Georgiev and Staal embracing after a win.

The Rangers backup last season appeared in 34 games last season winning 17 games. He is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.  There have been no reports of negotiations at this point, but the sides should start some sought of communication once the free agency period begins on Oct. 8.

VIDEO: Sam Darnold’s electrifying TD run gives New York Jets first lead of 2020

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

The New York Jets quarterback unleashed the longest run from a thrower this season, his 46-yard rush giving Gang Green an early lead.

Vick. Jackson. Darnold?

Sam Darnold gave the New York Jets an early lead over the Denver Broncos on Thursday night through a showstopping 46-yard touchdown run. The score gave the Jets an early lead, New York’s first of the season, in their primetime tilt.

Darnold wound up accounting for all but two yards on the Jets’ opening scoring drive, one that took nine plays to go 75 yards after the opening kickoff. His legs were responsible for two previous conversions on third down. A three-yard punch in the opening minute kept the drive going, as did an eight-yard scramble on third-and-four just prior to midfield. Darnold’s previous career-best in rushing was a 35-yard output in December 2018 against Houston. The long touchdown is the longest run by any quarterback so far this season.

The Jets continue to lead Denver 7-3 in the latter stages of the first quarter.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Joe Flacco ACTIVE and set to serve as New York Jets’ backup

New York Jets, Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco’s first time in a New York Jets gameday uniform will come against one of his former teams on Thursday night.

While Thursday night’s primetime matchup between the New York Jets and Denver Broncos (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network) may lack that championship feeling, but Super Bowl flair will be on display on the home team’s sideline.

For the first time in his New York career, former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will dress for the Jets and serve as Sam Darnold’s backup. Flacco was sidelined by a neck injury for nearly a full year but was signed by the Jets in May.

A native of Audubon, NJ, Flacco is set to enter his 13th NFL season. Flacco is best known for his 11-year tenure with the Baltimore Ravens, where he sits atop nearly every statistical list in the team’s passing record book. He helped guide the Ravens to their second Super Bowl in 2013, capturing MVP honors in the team’s 34-31 win over San Francisco.

Making his Jets debut against Denver carries a hint of Flacco irony. After Baltimore made the switch to Lamar Jackson at quarterback, he was signed by the Broncos to serve as a placeholder quarterback to 2019 first-round choice Drew Lock. Flacco started eight games in orange, throwing for 1,822 yards and six touchdowns before sustaining the aforementioned neck injury in an October loss to Indianapolis. Denver released Flacco last March, sticking with Lock, Jeff Driskel, and Brett Rypien on their quarterback depth chart. Rypien is set to make his first NFL start on Thursday with Lock injured.

The Jets (0-3) will still be without top receiving option Breshard Perriman, who will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury. Others on the New York inactive list include Jordan Willis, Marqui Christian, Quincy Wilson, and Nathan Shepard, as well as rookies Ashtyn Davis and James Morgan.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

3 storylines to watch in Denver Broncos Vs New York Jets matchup

The New York Jets (0-3) will take on the Denver Broncos (0-3) in tonight’s game. The game was one I was eager to see prior to the season. I hoped the headlines would be all about Drew Lock vs Sam Darnold or about how the Jets improved defense would handle the Broncos young and talented offense. Instead, we have Brett Rypien at the helm of a banged-up Broncos team and the Jets fighting for any shred of respect they could salvage this season. Here are the things I am watching for in the battle of two of the worst AFC teams to this point.

Adam Gase’s Funeral?

After the Jets got embarrassed this past Sunday in Indianapolis, the heat beneath Adam Gase’s seat became flames. Rumors have swirled all week from Colin Cowherd, Chris Mortensen, and many other top insiders that this could be the end of the road for Gase if the team is blown out. The consensus is, the team needs to implode for Gase to be ousted. The Broncos would need to perform similarly to the 49ers in Week 2 for Gase to go. The odds are in Gase’s favor to still be the coach of this team come Friday morning, but the Jets are wearing all black tomorrow night, so maybe this could be Gase’s New York Jet funeral.

Brett Rypien’s First Career Start

Rypien starting tonight brings me back to the game the Jets played when Luke Falk stepped in on Thursday night last year. Rypien was a practice squad fixture until just a week ago, but after going 8/9 for 53 yards and a pick in the end zone, he will get a shot to run the offense, at least to start, tonight. Broncos coach Vic Fangio has said he will see a role where Jeff Driskel gets work as well. Last year the Jets preyed on weak QBs like Dwayne Haskins Jr., Matt Barkley, and Devlin Hodges. Although this Jets defense is a shell of what it was last year, Gregg Williams is still here, and he knows how to make young QBs uncomfortable. The Broncos have also allowed 13 sacks, which stands as the second-most in the league. The Jets could look to make this a really rough debut for the nephew of former NFL vet Mark Rypien.

Sam Darnold Needs To Rebound

The Jets offense floundered last weekend, but particularly so did Sam Darnold. With three interceptions, Sam Played one of his worst pro games. Tonight though, he gets a returning Jamison Crowder along with a budding connection with Braxton Berrios. Darnold needs to come out swinging tonight; Gase needs to let him run around and sling it. He needs to get rid of the receiver screens and take some shots downfield. They need to open up the playbook because win or loss, the most paramount issue is getting Darnold some momentum back.

If Khabib Nurmagomedov wins at UFC 254, something special is next

The UFC‘s undisputed lightweight king put the retirement rumors to bed at today’s media day. As Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) took questions he said that he didn’t believe that he would retire if he defeats Justin Gaethje (22-2) at UFC 254.

Nurmagomedov talked about his love for competition and his love for competing inside the UFC. The champ told reporters, “I love competition. I love competing with the best fighters in the world. That’s why I’m here. I’m not in the UFC to make money.”

There have been a lot of rumors talking about what would be next if Nurmagomedov remains unbeaten at UFC 254. There have been questions on if he would walk away or if he’d rematch Conor McGregor or perhaps a match with Georges St. Pierre. The lightweight champ said Dana White is working on something for him after the fight.

“We have a couple of options. We’re going to think about this after this fight. Dana told me, after this fight, he has something special for me. They said, ‘We have very big things after this fight for you,'” Nurmagomedov told reporters.

What are the UFC’s Plans?

It is unclear right now what the UFC has in store for Khabib if he’s able to defeat Gaethje later this month which will be no easy task. You could make the argument that Justin Gaethje is the hardest stylistic matchup for Khabib inside the UFC‘s lightweight division.

If Khabib wins on October 24th, I think that the GSP fight is definitely one of the options on the table. We’ve also heard about a potential coaching stint on the Ultimate Fighter with Conor McGregor. Although Dana White said that was off the table yesterday.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has become one of the biggest stars in the UFC. If he does only have a couple of fights left with the promotion, I expect the UFC to try to do some big things for him. While nothing is set in stone until after UFC 254, I would expect it to be something big.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone makes an easy decision and one tough one for the Rays series’ opener

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees advanced to the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, a matchup that will see the best of five games move on to the Championship Series. It will start on Monday in the city of San Diego, per the new format adopted this season by the league.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed on Thursday that right-hander Gerrit Cole will be his starter for Game 1, which comes as no surprise since he is the team’s best pitcher by far. Kevin Cash, Tampa’s manager, hasn’t officialized who he will be sending to the mound to rival Cole, but every sign is pointing at left-hander Blake Snell.

The no-brainer decision to send Cole for Game 1 will also set him up to start another contest should the series go that far. The first club to win three games will move on, and the other one will go home.

The Yankees will keep their tandem

Cole is fresh off a dominating start on Tuesday, as he stymied the Cleveland Indians for seven innings. He allowed only six base hits and two runs, with no walks and 13 strikeouts. His teammates said after that game that that type of performance was what he was signed for. For reference, Cole put pen to paper to a a nine-year, $324 pact over the winter.

The decision to start Cole in the first game of the Tampa series was as easy as it gets. However, the person that will catch him is a more complex one for several reasons, the main one being that Gary Sanchez is a superior offensive talent than Kyle Higashioka.

Still, the Yankees’ skipper is once again opting to have Higashioka, who went 1-for-5 with a strikeout on Tuesday, catch Cole. He has become his personal catcher and the two have said they are very comfortable working together.

That means Sanchez, who hit a home run and a sac fly to tie the New York Yankees’ second game against the Cleveland Indians, will start on the bench.

Should the New York Mets pursue Trevor Bauer this offseason?

Should the New York Yankees consider Trevor Bauer in a potential trade?

The New York Mets failed to qualify for the 2020 postseason after a disastrous year that included long and short-term injuries, opt-outs, underperformances and plain bad luck. The most problematic area was always the pitching, especially the rotation.

Last winter, when the New York Mets were assembling their team, they signed Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello to one-year pacts, and they had six starters with proven MLB success track record: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz and the two newcomers.

But then Syndergaard was lost to Tommy John surgery, Matz was very bad when healthy and also had injury issues, and even deGrom had to deal with physical issues at some point. Wacha and David Peterson, who was already a replacement for Marcus Stroman (he decided to opt out) also needed some time to heal shoulder ailments.

Long story short, the once-admirable starting pitching depth that the Mets managed to assemble at some point was quickly lost well into the season. And as a result, they couldn’t make the playoffs.

A new ERA for the Mets… so to speak

Now, the Mets are about to enter a new era, with Steve Cohen as their new owner, pending the approval of MLB owners. If that’s the case, Cohen will be the league’s wealthiest owner and, since he is a lifelong Mets’ fan, could be more inclined to make some expenses if the chances of improving the roster are high.

Enter Trevor Bauer. The soon-to-be free agent would be a welcome addition to any rotation, since he is in the conversation for the NL Cy Young and just finished the season with a 1.73 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP in 73.0 frames, with a 100/17 K/BB ratio.

The right-hander would form a formidable one-two punch with Jacob deGrom and would propel the Mets to favorites in the division. Syndergaard should be able to return around the All-Star break, and Matz is also under contract.

Will the new administration make a run at Bauer? Would the right-hander be interested in coming to New York to pitch for the Mets?

Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia say XFL will return in Spring 2022

Dwayne Johnson

New XFL owners Johnson and Garcia gave a timetable for the return of the star-crossed league, which hinted at a return to the NYC area.

Metropolitan football fans seeking liberation from gridiron defeat will have to be a little patient.

Actor and businessman Dwayne Johnson unveiled the timetable for the return of the XFL, which is set to make a third attempt at alternative professional football. According to Johnson, who headlined an August purchase from Vince McMahon, the league will return to action in the spring of 2022. Johnson made the announcement through a video on social media showcasing various images of XFL football from their latest incarnation from earlier this year. The video is narrated by Johnson and business partner and co-owner Dany Garcia.

“Our work is cut out for us,” Johnson admits in his narration. “But we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“This will be earned,” Garcia adds before promising “We’ll give it every last ounce of football-loving energy in the tank.”

The video’s imagery hints at a return to the New York City metropolitan area, featuring images of both the city itself and of the most recent team, the Guardians. New York is one of two markets that appeared in both the 2001 and 2020 version of the XFL, the other being Los Angeles. The Guardians went 3-2 in a season that ran in February and March, one that was shut down early due to the ongoing health crisis. New York won both of its games played at MetLife Stadium, the most recent being a 17-14 triumph over the Los Angeles Wildcats on February 29.

“The XFL represents the idea of ultimate opportunity; it’s a league of soul and culture, anchored by the pursuit of dreams and love for the game, that we couldn’t be more proud to lead,” Garcia and Johnson said in a statement. “Every XFL player, coach, city, and fan is our top priority and we couldn’t be more excited to champion them in an electrifying 2022 season. We are the new XFL—hungry, humble and no one will outwork us.”

“For the love of football and for the safety of our players and fans, we’ll be back on the field in 2022,” Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President and COO, added in the same statement. “The opportunity in front of us, with our new ownership, is simply too big to rush back.  We want to do this properly with care and thought for everyone who loves football, especially our players, coaches, partners, and fans.” 

The XFL was originally formed by McMahon in 2001, in association with his World Wrestling Federation property and NBC. This original version attempted to thrive on shock value and wrestling-style kayfabe and lasted only a single season due to poor reviews and low ratings. Johnson, a former WWF wrestler, would make appearances at original XFL games under his persona “The Rock”. The New York/New Jersey Hitmen played their games at Giants Stadium and finished with a 4-6 record.

McMahon resurrected the property in January 2018 with a more straightforward approach to football that nonetheless featured new innovations like a modified kickoff process and overtime format. It appears that Johnson will likewise bide his time when it comes to the league’s debut. The Guardians were locked in a three-way tie for first place in the XFL’s eastern conference at the end of the abbreviated return. Three New Yorkers currently reside on NFL practice squads. Offensive linemen Jarron Jones and Anthony Coyle are with the Pittsburgh Steelers while kicker Matthew McCrane recently joined the Cleveland Browns. Praise was bestowed toward the league’s game presentation, where sideline reporters from the networks of ESPN and Fox Sports would interview players and coaches while the game was ongoing.

Johnson, who is currently filming the action-comedy film Red Notice for Netflix alongside Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, has hinted that the league’s eight teams, including the Guardians, will return for the new edition. The XFL was the latest league to test the usually murky waters of alternative professional football. Other recent attempts include the Alliance of American Football (which folded in the midst of its only season in 2019) and the United Football League (which ran sporadically for four seasons).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Chris Weidman believes he would beat the UFC champ: ‘I’d ragdoll him!’

Chris Weidman

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman (15-5) is back in the news today after some recent comments. Weidman has never lacked for confidence over the last few years despite going through some tough times in his UFC career.

Weidman was once the undefeated UFC middleweight champion. Then he went on to lose five out of six fights by knockout. During that stretch, Weidman explored a move to light heavyweight, but was quickly knocked out by Dominick Reyes at UFC on ESPN 6.

Following that loss, Weidman decided to move back down to middleweight. Weidman was able to defeat Omari Akhmedov by unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 6. The win was a massive victory for Weidman who seems more motivated than ever to get back to UFC gold.

Weidman currently doesn’t have his next opponent setup. However, that hasn’t stopped him from having his eyes focused on the top of the middleweight division. The All American sees himself as a nightmare matchup for UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0).

Calling out the UFC champ

In an interview with Chael Sonnen, the former UFC middleweight champion said, “I think that’s a tailor-made matchup for me. I’m the type of guy that will bring that pressure, and I will take him down and I’ll rag doll him on the floor.”

Those are some strong words from the former champ to the current UFC middleweight champion. For years, people have thought that the key to beating Adesanya would be getting him to the ground and keeping nonstop pressure on him.

I think Weidman is right in the sense that that’s how you could beat him. However, I’m not sure Weidman would be the best guy in the UFC to implement that game plan. Still, Weidman pointed out his success against fighters like Adesanya as his reasoning.

“Those tall athletic strikers, I’ve proven that I can beat them. I think wrestling, heavy punches and kicks, and nonstop pressure is what you need to beat them. That’s the recipe that beats those guys. I’ve proved that with Anderson Silva twice, and Uriah Hall. Those guys are in trouble against me.”

Weidman still has a ways to go before he’s ready for another UFC title shot. Who knows, Adesanya might not even be in the division anymore by the time Weidman gets a crack at UFC gold. However, if they fight, Weidman sure believes he’s the perfect guy to beat Adesanya.