New York Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. “felt betrayed” by former coach Pat Shurmur

We never did get to see what would happen if the New York Giants were able to field a healthy Odell Beckham Jr., Daniel Jones, and Saquon Barkley. As everyone knows, the team moved on from Beckham with a trade to the Browns and there’s been varying takes on whether that was a good move or not. Some have said that Beckham was a distraction and overrated on the field, and others have complained about the Giants trading away a major offensive weapon that they still haven’t replaced fully.

However, more light is coming out on just what happened before the team moved on from Beckham. If the player himself is to be believed, he had other factors than just his health working against him towards the end of his time with the franchise.

Beckham Jr. accuses Pat Shurmur of sabotage

Most Giants fans don’t have too high of a view of Pat Shurmur as a coach based on how his time with the team went, but Beckham revealed another possible problem from Shurmur’s time with the Giants while speaking to the All Things Covered podcast.

He says that Shurmur intentionally tried to turn teammates against him, a detail that hasn’t come out before.

“I felt betrayed in a sense that this coach tried to turn me against my brothers and my coaches and was telling the young guys to stay away from me because I’m not a good person or not a good team [player] or role model or this and that,” Beckham said. Of course, we all know who ‘this coach’ actually means, even if Beckham didn’t name Shurmur explicitly. It’s clear enough from who was in charge when the Giants moved on from Beckham.

He also claims that he never meant to talk down on Eli Manning – an incident that would become one of the defining controversies of the late period of his time with the franchise.

“The only thing I can look back on and be like, ‘Man, I regret saying that’ is saying he’s not the same player, even though it’s the truth.”

Manning was, of course, replaced by Daniel Jones not long after Beckham departed. But whether or not Beckham was right to state the truth, as he claims, is a matter of opinion.

Building an organization

While Beckham has said a number of controversial things, a lot of fans will likely agree with his comments about team building. The rebuilding process of the Giants has been extended by draft picks not panning out, and Beckham mentioned the draft specifically.

According to him, the Giants could have won with Eli despite his age. But not with the way they drafted during those years.

“I felt like they never put people around Eli. It bothered me because I felt like they never built around him. And we just kept drafting, we were drafting not like building an organization.”

Fortunately, the Giants have started to change that more recently. Picks such as Darius Slayton, Andrew Thomas, and Dexter Lawrence have been panning out and the team has made good free agent decisions that have directly resulted in more wins. Organizationally, the Giants went with a new coaching staff that looks more effective. Not only is Joe Judge a candidate for Coach of the Year, but his coordinators haven’t dropped the ball as Giants coordinators under Pat Shurmur did.

But we’ll never know what would have happened if the Giants kept Beckham around during these improvements. The idea of Daniel Jones throwing touchdown passes to Beckham, and of the Giants having a dangerous receiving group including Beckham, Slayton, and Sterling Shepard is an appealing one.

Like many other things in NFL history though, it remains a ‘what if.’ And it will take a serious shakeup for Beckham to somehow accomplish his old goal of winning a ring in New York.

Buffalo Bills: Cole Beasley keeps up career-best pace on MNF

bills, cole beasley

Set to reach his finest yearly numbers, Beasley posted a career-best in yardage during the Buffalo Bills’ Monday night win in Glendale.

Eight days after earning six points the hard way, Cole Beasley was happy to return to the end zone in more traditional methods during Monday night’s displaced tilt against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Buffalo Bills receiver earned the first scoring pass of his career (and first since high school) last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, but another group of Californian foes saw felt his wrath on the receiving end. His five-yard touchdown from Josh Allen at the onset of the second quarter helped shift momentum back toward the Bills’ side, knotting things up at 7-7. Those five yards were part of a career-best night for Beasley, whose final tally of 130 played a big role in an eventual 34-24 victory at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Following that touchdown, offensive lineman Jon Feliciano picked up Beasley and mimicked rocking him to sleep as their dumbfounded, yet celebratory, teammates looked on.

“I told him if I got in the end zone, I’d let him rock me to sleep,” Beasley said of the celebration, per Jourdon LaBarber of BuffaloBills.com. “(Feliciano) did a good job. I was really happy he came and found me when I got in there.”

Though Beasley’s teammates are happy to treat him like a baby, his impact has been anything but infantile. The second-year Bill is on pace to set new career-highs in nearly every major receiving category, his current tallies sitting at 797 on 66 receptions, four of which have gone for touchdowns. All but nine of those yards have come through his role as the slot receiver, an NFL Next Gen Stats category where Beasley leads in yardage from the spot (778).

Beasley’s prior career-best campaign came in 2016 with the Dallas Cowboys, when he picked up 75 catches and 833 yards. His best touchdown earnings came in his Buffalo debut last season (6).

Through Monday’s visit to Glendale, Beasley has earned triple-digit yardage games in three of his last six. The timing couldn’t be better, as he has been asked to step up in the absence of fellow veteran John Brown, who has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain. Placed on injured reserve, Brown will be eligible to return for the Week 15 Saturday night contest against Denver.

Beasley’s performance in an expanded role has not gone unnoticed.

“His presence is like a superhero,” guard Dion Dawkins said in LaBarber’s report. “He reminds me of The Flash. He’s extremely quick – not a little kid but he’s a go-getter. He has his fun, he says his little comments, and he goes hard at 150 miles per hour. He does it over and over again, and I see The Flash.”

Despite his magic against the Chargers, Beasley admitted he was disappointed with the way he played in the most recent showing at Bills Stadium. Though he had a perfect passer rating via his single pass being a score, he mustered only 25 yards on a pair of receptions otherwise.

Beasley said he was more annoyed that he wasted a decent day from Josh Allen than he was about any lost stats on his end. Monday made for a more successful collaboration between the pair, as 130 of Allen’s 364 yards went to Beasley.

“I was a little disappointed in my play last week. I was excited for another chance to play better for my teammates,” Beasley said of the improvement, per Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN. “Any time you’ve got a guy like that throwing to you, you never want to lose a route or let him down because you know he’s looking for you, and he’s going to get it there.”

Beasley and the Bills (9-3) return to action on Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

NASCAR makes early adjustments to 2021 schedule

The early portions of NASCAR’s 2021 schedule will have a strong Floridian feel, as the second weekend of the season will remain at Daytona.

For many, Florida in February is but a pipe dream. For NASCAR, it’s a new reality.

The auto racing circuit announced a pair of schedule shifts on Tuesday afternoon. Following the season-opening Daytona 500 for the premier Cup Series on February 14, the series will remain at the iconic Daytona International Speedway to run its second weekend of events at the venue’s road course on February 19-21. Each of the circuit’s trio of national series (Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Truck) will race on the road course for the second straight year. The second event of the season was originally a doubleheader between the Xfinity and Cup Series for Homestead-Miami Speedway, which will now move to the weekend of February 27-28.

Lost from the schedule is the annual trek to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, which has annually hosted a Cup Series event since 1997. A NASCAR statement states that moving from Fontana was necessary due to “challenges resulting from the ongoing pandemic and the need for significant advance planning”. The venue was set to host its final events on its traditional two-mile D-shaped oval, before undergoing renovations that turn it into a half-mile short track. These refurbishments have likewise been put on hold. Alex Bowman is the defending winner of the Cup Series’ 400-mile race at the track, while Harrison Burton took the Xfinity portion (300 miles).

NASCAR visited the Daytona road course for the first time in August due to Watkins Glen International’s date being lost due to health protocols in New York State. The course is 3.61 miles in its NASCAR incarnation and each of the national series partook. Daytona’s road course was recently announced to be hosting the Busch Clash exhibition, a season-opening showcase that is open to playoff drivers, race winners, stage winners, and pole sitters from on-track qualifying. The race will be held on Tuesday, February 9, five days before “The Great American Race”.

This shift will only add to a Cup Series-record in races on a road course in 2021, as the season is scheduled to visit seven such venues. In addition to the recurring visits in Daytona, Watkins Glen, Sonoma, and Charlotte, the Cup Series will also visit road courses at Indianapolis, Road America, and the Circuit of the Americas.

Homestead-Miami Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval in Homestead, a 40-minute drive from Magic City. The track hosted NASCAR’s season finales from 2002 through 2019, with that date since shifted to Phoenix. Denny Hamlin is the defending winner at the track, taking home the Dixie Vodka 400 in June.

The news of another road course should be welcomed warmly by defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott. He and his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team have won each of the last four races held at such tracks, including the inaugural visit to Daytona (the Go Bowling 325) in August.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

 

New York Giants in tight race to win the division with Washington Football Team

New York Giants, Ryan Lewis

The New York Giants, for a short while, sat alone in first place in the NFC East. After a clutch, statement victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, New York improved its record to 5-7, moving into first place in their division. It looked like New York would hold onto that position, as the 4-7 Washington Football Team was scheduled to play the 11-0 Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. However, Washington earned a statement victory of its own on Monday, improving to 5-7 and tying the Giants for first place in the division.

The Giants, of course, have the head-to-head tie-breaker over Washington. The division rivals already played their two scheduled contests in 2020, with the Giants coming out with the victory in both of those matchups. Still, Washington and New York have the exact same record after thirteen weeks this season. With the other two NFC East teams imploding, it looks to be a tight race to win the NFC East between the Giants and The Football Team.

The race to win the NFC East

With four weeks left in the season, the Giants have a tight race to win the NFC East. New York is on an impressive four-game winning streak and looks like a completely different team than they were when they were started the season 0-5. But the Washington Football Team has also improved drastically over recent weeks and could try to steal the Giants’ playoff spot.

Washington is now on a three-game winning streak after handing the Steelers their first loss of the season. But with four games left to play, Washington just might have a more favorable schedule than New York.

The Giants’ Remaining Schedule

The Giants will host the 6-6 Arizona Cardinals this week in another intriguing matchup. This is certainly a winnable game for the Giants but they need to be careful when facing Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and the Cardinals’ electric offense. This should be a good, close matchup.

Then, in Week 15, the 9-3 Browns will travel to New Jersey and give the Giants one of their toughest tests of the season. Cleveland is on a serious roll in recent weeks and poses a serious threat for the Giants on their upcoming schedule.

The Gmen will then travel to play another AFC North team after that, the 6-5 Baltimore Ravens who have looked like anything but the Super Bowl contenders they were expected to be before the season began. But the Giants cannot sleep on a Ravens team that features the reigning league MVP.

Finally, in Week 17, the Giants will have their final divisional game as they host the disappointing Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is 3-8 on the year and is by far the Giants’ weakest opponent on their remaining schedule.

The Football Team’s Schedule

The Washington Football team’s schedule seems to have less formidable opponents. Washington will travel to play the 5-7 San Fransisco 49ers this week. Record-wise, this is an even matchup. But San Fransisco looked ready to throw in the towel early in last night’s loss to Buffalo and might be cooling off for the season.

Washington will then host a tough, but beatable 8-4 Seattle Seahawks team. The Giants are celebrating a thrilling victory over Seattle this week, but they should hope that Seattle can put together a better performance in Week 15.

The Football Team’s Week 16 matchup is another beatable team. The Carolina Panthers have dealt with many key injuries this season, pulling their record down to 4-8. However, stud running back Christian McCaffery might return in time to play Washington, which could give the Football Team’s solid defense some trouble.

The Football Team’s final game of the season makes things very interesting. Washington will finish their season in Philadelphia against the struggling 3-8 Eagles who just benched starting quarterback Carson Wentz. This projects to be a favorable matchup for Washington, but this will likely be one of those ultra-rare moments where Giants fans root for Philadelphia.

The Path to the Playoffs

Simply put, if the Giants keep playing the way they have been playing, and if they keep winning football games, they should win the division. New York’s defense has been dominant in recent weeks. The best way to win the race to the playoffs is to win out. But, realistically, the Giants might drop a game or two before the season’s end. The Giants should hope to see Washington lose in Philadelphia in Week 17 in order to weigh down their divisional record and give the Giants a greater chance of winning the NFC East.

New York Giants: Week 13 stock report, ups and downs

New York Giants, Colt McCoy, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants picked up their fifth win of the season on Sunday afternoon in Seattle.

Big Blue got arguably their biggest win of the season as they marched into Seattle and neutralized a top-three offense in the NFL. This victory for New York puts them at 5-7 and with some breathing room at the top of the NFC East.

Here’s how this win affected the stock of various aspects of the Giants organization.

Stock up

Leonard Williams, DT

Leonard Williams’ stock continues to rise during his contract year as he posted his best game of the season in week 13. Williams had seven pressures, five QB hits, and 2.5 sacks leading the game in all categories. The defensive tackle was an absolute wrecking machine that could not be stopped, and this was most evident on a crucial third and ten in the final minute where he was able to record a game-winning sack.

Jabrill Peppers, S

Another player who has been heating up as of recent is Jabrill Peppers. He has become the Giants’ best all-around defender doing a little bit of everything. The New Jersey native has been an amazing tackler, coverage man, and edge rusher these past few weeks. This was on display in Seattle, where he posted five tackles, two passes defended, and one sack.

Blake Martinez, LB

Blake Martinez once again proved his worth of why he was an amazing singing by Gettleman. In this contest, the former Packer recorded 10 tackles, one tackle for loss, one pass defended, and a forced fumble. He was the clear leader of this defense, which most recently put up one of the best performances by any team this season.

Patrick Graham, Defensive Coordinator

In order for this defense to play so phenomenally, they are in need of excellent coaching and excellent coaching they have had. Patrick Graham had his players in the right position to hold a red hot Seattle offense to their lowest point total (10 offensive points) of the season. It is clear that he is a defensive mastermind as even with little pass-rushing talent, he was able to get a total of 25 pressures on Russell Wilson.

Wayne Gallman, LB

On the other side of the ball, Wayne Gallman carried the offensive production for New York. The fourth-year running back posted 135 yards on 16 carries. He posted a nice tote of 8.4 yards per attempt and had an explosive 60-yard run, a career-long, which set up the Giants’ first touchdown.

Offensive Tackles

In order for Wayne Gallman to get this type of production, he needed the help of his tackles, who both did a phenomenal job. Andrew Thomas allowed zero pressures and received a PFF grade of 87.1. His improved blocking, and specifically pass blocking, has been an integral part of the Giants’ success as over the four-game win streak, he only allowed five pressures. On the other end, Cameron Fleming was also an elite blocker in week 13 as he was New York’s highest-graded player by PFF. He received a grade of 87.5 and allowed no QB pressures.

Stock Down

Dion Lewis, RB

Lewis’ stock as a running back and blocker diminished in week 13. The veteran only saw three carries, which he turned into a mere six yards. He also did not receive one passing target. He was also New York’s worst pass blocker allowing four pressures and one sack in four pass-blocking snaps. This earned him an astonishingly low pass-blocking grade of 2.5. For now, it looks like New York should look to part ways with Lewis this upcoming offseason.

Shane Lemieux, OG

Another player who struggled in the blocking game was rookie offensive guard Shane Lemieux. He allowed one pressure and received a pass-blocking grade of 19.7. Will Hernandez seems like the better option at guard as of now.

Special Teams

The special teams unit was once again disastrous on Sunday. Graham Gano missed an extra point, and Riley Dixon had his punt blocked for a safety. These are a net loss of three points, which a team can not afford from their specials unit.

Could a Hall of Famer be the New York Jets’ next head coach?

bill cowher, New York Jets

The New York Jets are certain to be in the market for a new head coach. With a competent and respected general manager in Joe Douglas, the projected second-most cap space, a plethora of draft picks, and the likely 1st pick, the Jets head coaching opening is surely going to be attractive. Apparently, that thought is shared by Hall of Fame head coach and current CBS Analyst Bill Cowher.

Lost in the news of the Jets firing Gregg Williams was the report from Boomer Esiason alluding to Bill Cowher having potential interest in the Jets Head Coaching job. Per Boomer himself on his show, “Boomer and Gio,” “He was saying to me yesterday, he’s the one that told me the Jets job is going to be really attractive, and they could hire whomever they want, and he told me he loves Joe Douglas.” This report doesn’t necessarily mean Cowher himself is interested in the job, but Boomer also said this, “All I know is that yesterday, he was showing me and Nate film of him coaching on the sideline where he was mic’ed up, and we looked at each other like, ‘Hmm, what does that mean?’.” Esiason continued, “Is he sending a message? I’ve worked with him for 14 years, and I’ve never seen that.”

So, what does this mean? Well, there have been rumors linking Cowher to the Jets long before he retired in 2006. Not only that, but rumors have swirled in the past about Cowher’s potential return. What is eye-opening to me, though, is that Boomer has a close bond with Bill, and for him to say all of this on the air openly, there must be some weight to these statements.

Cowher, at 63 years old, is still regarded as a bright football mind, but he is a bright mind in general. This move could mean two things, Cowher could be indirectly working with the Jets to add more hype around the presumed opening, or there really could be interest on Cowher’s end, and he is trying to float the idea in order to get a sense of the reception.

Could Cowher Fit In NY?

Bill Cowher is a highly respected coach, having went 149-90-1 from 1992 to 2006 with the Steelers and going to two Super Bowls, with a win in Super Bowl XL. Cowher is a proven leader. The issue surrounding Cowher, though, is that he has not coached in 14 years. The game has changed a lot in that time period, and some could say it has developed beyond the kind of coaching style he has. What I would say, though, is that a leader is a leader. Cowher is the kind of coach that has a reputation to rely on. Going from a coach who reportedly has no respect in the locker room to a Super Bowl champion is something that can rebuild a culture. The Jets on the field performance is putrid, but off the field, a potential 0-16 team is going to need not just a cultural rebuild but an entire overhaul.

By bringing in Cowher, the Jets are committing to experience and leadership. Pairing him with Joe Douglas would form one of the most formidable personnel tandems in franchise history. The likelier outcome is that the Jets go to the college ranks or to a coordinator for their next coach, but they are likely to cast a wide search for their next coach. This is an unlikely move, but the premise of a franchise-changing hire like this is enticing.

Tanaka is looking like a longshot to return to the Yankees: Will the Mets pounce?

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The days go by, and the New York Yankees fail to address their pitching needs via free agency or trade market. Their rotation depth is very thin right now, as they lost Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ.

And with each passing day, it seems less likely that they will bring Tanaka back, and he is actually the most likely to return of the outgoing trio. The winter, for the Yankees, has been cold, as in “cold stove.”

Michael Kay reported in the last few hours that from what he has heard, if the Yankees get LeMahieu, which is going to be very costly, “that might be the last big guy they get.” So if everybody just assumes that Tanaka is coming back, “I would really, really not hold my breath.”

SNY’s Andy Martino wrote something similar on his Twitter account. He said that the Kay report was accurate, and “it’s hard to see him returning if Yankees sign LeMahieu.”

The Yankees are letting Tanaka slip away

With the Yankees failing to secure Tanaka’s services, another contender, the New York Mets, will probably be lurking around to see if they can sign him. They are looking for pitching and seem more willing to spend some money, at least more than the Yankees right now.

The Mets have a new ownership group, and the new leader, Steve Cohen, happens to have lots of financial resources. There are several positions of need in Queens, one of them being starting pitching.

And why wouldn’t the Mets be interested in a successful pitcher with a strong track record of pitching well in New York? In 1054.1 career innings, the Japanese import has a 3.74 ERA, a 3.91 FIP, and a 3.52 xFIP. He has struck out 8.46 per nine frames, and handed 1.78 free passes per nine innings.

If the Mets land Trevor Bauer, the best free agent pitcher in the market, then getting Tanaka wouldn’t such a feasible scenario. But if they don’t, the free agent hurler could fit in nicely in Queens. The Yankees, having spent a fortune last year in Gerrit Cole, are apparently not in a rush to bring Tanaka back.

UFC: Michelle Waterson – Amanda Ribas is off

A highly anticipated UFC strawweight matchup is off. MMA Fighting was first to report that the strawweight clash between Michelle Waterson (18-8) and Amanda Ribas (10-1) has been called off.

Waterson is the one who had to pull out of the matchup. Reasons have not been given as to why the fight is off. The strawweight fight was scheduled to take place on the main card of UFC 257, headlined by Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.

Waterson was looking to pickup her second straight win in the UFC. The Karate Hottie has been on a journey where she is attempting to become the first UFC champion that’s a mom.

She’s gotten close to a title shot a couple of times. However, she’s faltered when she had to go up against the elite of the UFC‘s strawweight division. She just picked up a big win over Angela Hill back in September. That win snapped a two-fight losing streak.

This is the second straight UFC fight that has fallen out for Amanda Ribas. Originally, Ribas was supposed to take on Carla Esparza at UFC 256, however, that fight ultimately fell through which led to the Waterson fight.

The UFC’s plan

At this time there is no word on what the UFC is planning on doing. With the event being more than a month away, the likely scenario is that the promotion will move to make another fight for Amanda Ribas.

Ribas is becoming a star in the strawweight division. Between her personality and her performances inside the octagon, she’s becoming a bright spot at strawweight. Ribas last competed at UFC 251 where she submitted Paige VanZant.

Ribas is undefeated since joining the UFC back in June of 2019. Most notably, Ribas is the only fighter to have defeated Mackenzie Dern. She won that fight by unanimous decision last October. Again, I think the promotion is going to try and keep Ribas on the card as of now.

Knicks keep their faith in Knox: ‘I want to prove a lot of people wrong’

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

Despite an underwhelming sophomore season for Kevin Knox, the New York Knicks have remained committed to the former lottery pick.

Knox, who shot a dreadful 36 percent overall last season, has been criticized for his low motor. The former Kentucky star is eager to turn the corner and finally break out in the NBA.

He’s brimming with confidence, which emanates from the full backing he’s been getting from the Knicks.

“The whole coaching staff, the whole organization really has a lot of faith in me. They’ve really been pushing me all summer. Coach has really been reaching out,” Knox said on his zoom call Tuesday.

This echoed former Knick Steve Novak’s sentiment earlier in the day on MSG A.M.

“I think the guy with the Knicks that you really need to watch this year, going into his third year, is Kevin Knox,” Novak said. “I know there are a lot of new names, a lot of new faces, and a lot of potentials, with a lot of the roster – Obi Toppin being picked, great selection. But to me, Kevin Knox is in his third year. Coach Thibs has been in Kevin Knox’s ear all summer long since he signed with the New York Knicks.

“And it sounds like they’ve made him a priority. So he is a guy who has the potential to make that leap and improve and help this New York Knicks team. I think if he can have a solid year, he can really help the Knicks.”

Training camp star

Thibodeau has been effusive in his praise for the third-year forward when he mentioned that Knox had been impressive in the first two days of the training camp.

“I hope he can sustain that over a long period of time. Looking at the shots that he had taken last year, the ones that he took which I would quantify as good shots, he made those,” Thibodeau said.

“When Kevin Knox takes good shots, he’s going to make them. He’s put a lot of time into his shooting. I think he’s gotten stronger. But he’s got to continue to work. And if he does that, Kevin Knox will be fine.”

Aside from focusing on his conditioning, Knox has trained with sought-after shooting coach Chris Matthews. Known as Lethal Shooter on social media, Matthews has helped improve the shooting mechanics of the likes of NBA big men Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, and WNBA stars Candace Parker and Skylar-Diggins Smith, among others.

Shot of confidence

Knox got a shot of confidence when the Knicks brought in Kenny Payne as an assistant coach. Payne has always been in his corner since his one-and-done season with the Wildcats.

Aside from Payne, the Knicks have added a slew of coaches who have a strong background in player development.

“As much as possible, I’m really getting a lot of work with different coaches that we have on our staff,” Knox said.

“It definitely feels great to have the organization behind my back. I just really want to go out there this year and prove a lot of people wrong. Just go out there and play hard and just really win games.”

The Knicks’ reluctance to include Knox in a package that would’ve gotten them All-Star point guard Chris Paul was the first sign that they are fully invested in the 2018 ninth overall pick.

Knox likes the makeup of this Knicks team better than last year, when Steve Mills signed a glut of veteran forwards that buried Knox on the bench.

“Last year, we brought in a lot of new guys. So it was kind of stuff adjusting to the new players. But I think this year, we really did a good job of bringing some veteran guys who will really help the young guys,” Knox said.

Run and gun Knicks

Knox already saw a glimpse of what the future holds for him and the Knicks at practice, with Thibodeau imploring them to run and take advantage of their athleticism.

“I think the way that coach really wants us to play this year is really fast. We’re so young, and we got a lot of athleticism, so he really wants us to fly up and down the court, which is really different than last year,” Knox said.

Thibodeau has yet to settle with his rotation opting to dedicate the first part of the training camp to fundamentals before moving to team schemes. But Knox said they already have a sense of how Thibodeau will roll them out this season.

“Everyone on the team knows their role. We had a couple of days of good practice. Just the flow of practice, everyone really knows how they gonna play this year,” he said.

Knox said Thibodeau has already told him what he needs to do to make great strides this season.

“He just really wants me to be aggressive, rebound the ball defensively, push the ball on the break, make plays knock the open shots, be aggressive, and get to the basket,” Knox said. 

Thibodeau’s message to him was obvious.

Play with a high motor.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

PFL star Clay Collard looks to close 2020 with a bang

Clay Collard decided to take advantage of every opportunity presented before him during a tumultuous time.

Collard will begin his quest for the largest paycheck in mixed martial arts when the Professional Fighters League returns in 2021 and will also look to close out 2020 in convincing fashion inside another arena.

The dual-sport megastar seeks his sixth consecutive win as a professional boxer when he competes this Saturday for Top Rank Boxing on the ESPN+ Shakur Stevenson vs. Toka Khan Clary card.

Collard will face Quincy LaVallais in Las Vegas from The Bubble, MGM Grand Convention Center. The bout will take place at 160 pounds and is scheduled for eight rounds.

Since January, Collard has been on a roll, racking up five wins in an eight-month span, including three stoppages. He is coming off a second-round knockout over Maurice Williams, in which he showed off his incredible boxing skills in a short amount of time.

“It’s been amazing,” Collard said during a recent Q&A hosted by Fight Hub TV. “I am fighting often, fighting tough opponents and loving all of the fans and love I have been getting from them. It’s just exciting.”

Collard has always shown his ability to adapt and thrive. He has competed in three different MMA weight classes and will focus on fighting at lightweight when the PFL’s 2021 Regular Season kicks off in a matter of months.

Collard has posted an 18-8 record inside the cage, including back-to-back victories just before signing with the PFL. He is 9-2-3 as a professional boxer.

“I want to keep dabbling in both,” Collard said. “I feel like it sets me apart from other fighters. I’m a striker, and I’m going to box regardless. (In MMA training) I am working my takedown defense and getting back up off the ground to get where I am comfortable, and that is to punch people in the face.”

This is not the first time Collard and LaVallais have squared off. Back in 2019, they battled to a draw. The two were also scheduled to meet in October before having the rematch delayed.