Training camp is one of the favorite times of the offseason because it’s a chance for fans to see their team’s new players in full contact practice. That holds true for the New York Giants, especially this offseason when the team has a number of new free agents and a new look on offense specifically. However, there will only be one practice where fans have a chance to see for themselves directly.
The last couple offseasons have been different than normal due to the effects of COVID-19, and this is just another byproduct of that. While training camp practices are traditionally public, the Giants have instead opted to have only one open practice but to make it a larger event than usual.
The team announced on Monday that a Giants Fan Fest is scheduled for August 11, where there will be other activities than just the practice such as autographs from former players and a fireworks show following the evening’s practice.
Rather than a smaller training field, the event is being held at MetLife Stadium itself and will celebrate fans being welcomed back to the stadium following its closure due to COVID-19 in 2020.
The Giants are set to open up their training camp on July 27, and it will precede a preseason that’s been shortened by one game to account for the longer schedule that the league is moving to.
Considering the Giants also have joint practices with two other teams scheduled for the preseason, it seems like the months of July and August are going to be especially busy as the team returns to practicing full speed.
New York Knicks‘ guard Luca Vildoza started for the second straight game for Argentina but hardly made an impact in a 94-71 loss to surging Nigeria in an exhibition game in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For the second straight game, Vildoza hit just 3-of-9 from the floor for eight points. He had 11 in a similar 3-of-9 shooting in Argentina’s 87-84 loss on Saturday.
Against Nigeria, Vildoza had his moments, especially in the third quarter. But the Nigerians, buoyed up by their historic upset win against Team USA over the weekend, were in total control since a big 13-2 run in the second quarter.
Vildoza, who trained with the Knicks’ developmental coaching staff for one month before joining Argentina’s pre-Olympic buildup, added two rebounds in 18 minutes. He also hit two of his five three-point attempts in 18 minutes of action.
Here are some highlights of Knicks guard Luca Vildoza (8p 3-9fg 2-5 3s 2r 2to’s 18mins) in Argentina’s 23-pt loss to Nigeria (94-71): pic.twitter.com/mjMeNYYePf
In his first two games with Argentina since signing with the Knicks, Vildoza is averaging 9.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 18.5 minutes of play. He’s shooting 33.3 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent from deep.
Argentina will next play Team USA Tuesday at 6 p.m. E.T.
The Knicks signed Vildoza to a partially guaranteed four-year, $13.6 million deal before the NBA playoffs started. But he didn’t suit up as New York coach Tom Thibodeau referred to him as a “summer thing.”
The Knicks are closely monitoring Vildoza’s play with Argentina as part of their evaluation before picking up his $3.3 million option next season.
Packed to the brim with potential, the New York Jets’ completely revamped linebacker corps must start producing on the field.
Following the conclusion of minicamp activities, the NFL offseason is officially over. The next time the New York Jets convene in Florham Park, they’ll be getting ready for preseason and regular season action for the 2021 campaign.
With the offseason in the rearview mirror, ESM looks back on the green offseason that was, position-by-position. The second half of the front seven segments features the linebackers…
A lot of attention and hullabaloo has been dedicated to the Jets’ constant turnover at quarterback, but a similar discussion could be had at linebacker. The Jets have had several marquee names to fill the slots. They used their 2016 first-rounder on Darron Lee (passing on names like Will Fuller, Jaylon Smith, Chris Jones, and Xavien Howard). Breakout defenders either turned out to be flukes (Jordan Jenkins) or went elsewhere (Tarell Basham). A de facto in-season firesale saw another casualty (Avery Williamson).
Medical absences have taken a particularly dangerous toll and it puts the Jets in an awkward position when it comes to C.J. Mosley. The former Baltimore Raven is in a bit of an awkward spot. He’s not only a rare leftover from the Mike Maccagnan era, but the prior general manager left a lasting legacy via a huge contract. Through the guaranteed clauses in his five-year, $85 million deal, Mosley has made $21.5 million thus far…for two games in green so far.
Mosley’s medical woes shouldn’t be held against him. Football is a physical, violent game and Mosley was one of many who weren’t comfortable playing amidst the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He had every right sitting out last season. The timing was just rather unfortunate from a Jets standpoint, as he was expected to provide some stability and winning pedigree to the Jets’ beleaguered defensive corps. Blake Cashman is another one beset by medical absences. He rose up in Mosley’s absence but is entering a huge third season after three major shoulder surgeries.
In an appearance on a team podcast hosted by Eric Allen and Ethan Greenberg, Mosley had no doubt that he was ready to make major contributions to the Jets’ road back to respectability, comparing his de facto two-year absence to the brief retirement of Rob Gronkowski. The tight end was a major part of Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl endeavor after taking a year off.
“Yeah, I don’t have any doubts in myself…I’m here, so we’ll let the play do the talking,” Mosley said. “I’m happy to be back in the building with my teammates, to be around the locker room and the new energy. What we’re doing now is building a great foundation, setting this team on course to stack up wins and get to where we want to go.”
The Jets have completely started over, as all of their primary linebackers from last season have moved on. Jenkins failed to expand on an eight-sack season in 2019 and moved on to Houston with reliable depth option Neville Hewitt. Basham, coming off a career-best season on the outside, earned a two-year with the Cowboys while Harvey Langi returned to New England.
How It’s Going
Head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich are noted practitioners of the 4-3 defense, which the Jets haven’t run since the Rex Ryan days. Free agent newcomer Jarrad Davis will be one of the most vital pieces of this transition…and, by association, one of the Jets’ most fateful additions as they prepared to pen what feels like the most hopeful chapters of their never-ending rebuild.
Davis is about to embark on the textbook definition of a make-or-break season. He inked a fully guaranteed one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Jets after four seasons in Detroit, who made him a first-round pick in 2017. His career began on a strong note: he earned All-Rookie honors and eight sacks over his first two seasons, but the past two seasons have been a struggle.
Problems in coverage have been particularly worrisome. Over the past three seasons, quarterbacks have earned a 113.8 passer rating when targeting Davis’ assignments. Davis’ hasn’t been a complete disaster…he’s still capable of raising pressure…but it wasn’t enough for Detroit to pick up his fifth-year option. how he performs on this prove-it deal could well determine the path for the rest of his career.
The downfall of Davis could be traced back to the respective departures of Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin following his rookie season. Austin ran the 4-3 in Detroit (and later Cincinnati, who refused to draft defensive scheme fits), picking up where Davis had left off from his college days at Florida under then-defensive coordinator (and current Georgia Tech head coach) Geoff Collins. His speed, on display through a sub-4.6 40 time could also be huge as the Jets seek to bolster their pass rush (fellow free agent Del’Shawn Phillips should also help check that box). Through his experience in the 4-3, Davis has a prime opportunity to not only reclaim the narrative on his NFL career but showcase his leadership skills.
In addition to the returns of Mosley and Cashman (each of whom may face make-or-break campaigns through no fault of their own), the Jets made a pair of interesting selections in the latter stages of the draft. Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen were each listed as safties, but the Jets almost immediately announced their intentions to turn them into linebackers. Sherwood, an Auburn alum, is a bit undersized for a linebacker but makes up for it with a wide wingspan and good coverage near the line of scrimmage. Florida State’s Nasirildeen could’ve been chosen during the first two days if not for a torn ACL from his junior season that limited him to two games last year. He gained a reputation as an aggressive hitter during his time in Tallahassee. An undefeated addition could wind up being undrafted outside rookie Hamilcar Rashed, who is two years removed a 14-sack season at Oregon State.
Are They Better Off?
On paper, there is a lot of potential in the Jets’ linebacking corps. But like many other areas on the team, it’s time to start capitalizing. There’s no use in holding Mosley and Cashman’s medical pasts against them. But if they’re ready to go, it’s completely fair to start asking them to contribute.
When it comes to the newcomers, they’re looking at the group with an eye on the future. Even if Davis fails to live up to his first-round billing, he could help the younger pieces learn the finer points of the 4-3 that figures to factor into their long-term future. The immediate action after the draftings of Sherwood and Nasirildeen shows that they have a plan for this group.
As we discussed in the defensive line portion, having a strong front seven and the pass rush that comes with it is going to be vital with a yearly pair of matchups with Josh Allen ahead for the next decade. Through these additions, the Jets bolstered both their pressure (Davis, Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins) and coverage (Sherwood and Nasrilideen). The names aren’t flash by any stretch, but the hopeful, hopefully game-changing, chapter of a perpetual rebuild has to start somewhere.
This linebacker group has both immediate intrigue (will Mosley and Cashman overcome their painful pasts?) and hope for the future. (Davis, Sherwood, Nasrilideen). They’ll certainly never be boring come Sundays.
A big question going into UFC 264 is would Gilbert Burns be able to take down Wonderboy. Wonderboy’s striking and unique style was set to give Burns problems on the feet and I figured if the fight stayed at range, Wonderboy would pick up the win.
When the fight was at range, that’s exactly what happened. Wonderboy got the better of the striking, however, he didn’t win the fight. Gilbert Burns did a fantastic job of using his wrestling in the first and third rounds.
While Wonderboy had his moments, Burns was able to take Wonderboy down and hold him there at UFC 264. Burns became the first man to really control Wonderboy in the manner that he did which was incredibly impressive.
There were a lot of boos at UFC 264 and the fight certainly wasn’t sexy for the fans, but it was a big moment for Burns. Burns bounced back from his failed attempt to capture the title and solved one of the most difficult puzzles in the welterweight division.
I think it’s a safe assumption that we can throw out Nate Diaz as an option here. With that, I think we’re looking at the UFC potentially booking Burns against either Masvidal or Leon Edwards.
With Burns coming off of a win, it would make the most sense to have him fight Leon Edwards and perhaps pair Wonderboy with Masvidal. However, what could throw a wrench into everything is if the UFC books Masvidal against Leon Edwards which has been discussed internally.
If the promotion goes in that direction, we would then look at the Michael Chiesa (18-4) – Vicente Luque (20-7-1) fight which takes place next month. Luque and Burns are best friends and training partners. If Chiesa wins next month, perhaps Burns takes on Chiesa in a title eliminator. Many options currently out there for Durinho.
This past Saturday at UFC 264, we saw the conclusion of the trilogy between Dustin Poirier (28-6, 1 NC) and Conor McGregor (22-6). The fight ended in dramatic fashion when McGregor broke his leg at the end of the first round.
With McGregor not being able to continue, the fight was called and Poirier was declared the winner. While it’s not a clean result and definitely not the kind of win Dustin Poirier probably wants to celebrate, it still counts.
Now, the UFC is able to move past the rivalry between the two men for now and put on the title fight that should have happened in the first place. UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira (31-8, 1 NC) was sitting cageside for the main event.
Dana White said before the fight took place that the winner would fight Oliveira for the lightweight title. With Poirier’s hand getting raised, the promotion now gets to put on the title fight that the entire world wants to see.
UFC: Oliveira – Poirier
Make no mistake about it, the two best active lightweights in the UFC are Poirier and Oliveira. Going back to January’s knockout, Poirier has been nearly perfect inside the octagon lately. The lone loss came against former undisputed champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Charles Oliveira has won nine fights in a row on his way to capturing the UFC lightweight title. In those nine victories, only one of them went the distance and that is only because Tony Ferguson didn’t tap from one of the nastiest armbars I’ve ever seen.
If Ferguson was a normal man, Oliveira would be on a nine-fight finish streak. Nevertheless, the winning streak is just as impressive given the fact that he beat Tony Ferguson from pillar to post for three rounds.
Poirier and Oliveira have been on similar paths inside the UFC. Both men have lost and both men have found great success in a weight class above where they started. Both men were top prospects at featherweight before becoming stars at 155 pounds.
Now, the two men will square off to determine who is the king of the UFC lightweights. Poirier was ranked ahead of Oliveira before Oliveira became the champion. The Diamond will likely be the betting favorite heading into their fight. However, Oliveira has proven over the last few years that he just might be the best in the business at 155.
Sound Off: Who will win between Poirier and Oliveira?
New York Mets’ slugger Pete Alonso will try to defend his crown in the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby, which will be on Monday at Coors Field and will be part of the All-Star Game festivities after a one-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The action will start tonight at 8 pm, ET, and eight of the best and most feared power hitters in the game will take some hacks to see who is the most powerful of all. Alonso won the 2019 edition, so that makes him the defending champion.
The Mets’ slugger didn’t hesitate to participate one more time in a competition that is made for him and his powerful right-handed swing.
The rest of the participants are as follows: the Texas Rangers’ Joey Gallo, the Baltimore Orioles’ Trey Mancini, the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, the Oakland A’s Matt Olson, the Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez, the Washington Nationals’ Juan Soto and the Colorado Rockies’ Trevor Story.
Mets’ fans are eager to see their slugger put on a show tonight
While every participant has enough power to win the event, it’s clear that most fans are eager to see what Ohtani can do in the Derby, and we could be in for a historic night.
Alonso, who represented the Mets in 2019, has 17 home runs in 2021, with the longest one traveling 443 feet. The hardest-hit home run of Alonso’s season came on April 21 against the Chicago Cubs, a 115.4-mph screamer that sounded like a gunshot as it left the bat.
Alonso launched 57 total homers (fourth most in a Derby), including 20 in a semifinal victory over Ronald Acuña Jr. and 23 in the final showdown with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., two years ago.
If he wins tonight, he will join Ken Griffey Jr. (1994, ‘98-99), Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14) and Prince Fielder (2009, 2012) as the only multiple-time Derby champions.
There is no question the Yankees need to be active at the trade deadline this year, considering the need for a lefty bat and outfield support. With Aaron Hicks missing the rest of the season and Clint Frazier dealing with migraines, one option that has been mentioned is Texas Rangers star Joey Gallo, who currently hosts a .239 average with 24 homers on the season.
Gallo is the perfect fit for the Yankees, who’ve been interested in his services for quite some time. Texas will likely be selling at the deadline, but Gallo is in line for a massive payday after the 2021 season ends, as he’s earning just $6.2 million for this year. However, he is arbitration-eligible for 2022, so if the Yankees want to bring him in, he will be pricey but nothing exorbitant for one more year. General manager Brian Cashman is playing a dangerous game, as the Yankees desperately need support; he’s trying to stay below the $210 million luxury tax threshold, which is proving to be difficult.
Gallo is 27, eligible for arbitration in 2022, and the earliest he can be a free agent is 2023. … The Rangers are more apt to either deal Gallo, or give him a long-term contract before he can go through that process. Because his agent is (Scott) Boras, his preference typically has been to allow his high-end clients to become free agents and command the type of contracts players love, and teams eventually hate. We are talking eight years, $200 million plus. Easy.
Hopefully, the Bombers can add a bit more depth in the outfield, but the priority should be a lefty hitter or switch option.
Chad Green blows easy win for the Yankees against Houston to wrap up series:
Enjoying a five-run lead in the bottom of the ninth-inning, relief pitcher Chad Green allowed four earned runs over 12 pitches to give Houston the win. Green currently features a 2.89 ERA, suggesting he’s had a solid season up to this point, but giving this game away changes the momentum entirely for the Yankees, who had won five of their last six games and nearly secured a series sweep against the Astros.
Because of the loss, the Yankees find themselves 8.0 games back behind Boston and 4th place in the American League division. They are 4.5 games back in the Wild Card, indicating they need to string together a few wins ASAP. They have an important series upcoming against the Boston Red Sox, a team they haven’t beaten this year a single time.
The starting pitching is going to need to be adequate, but the Yankees have a few days off until then, as the first pitch will commence on Thursday at 7 PM at Yankee Stadium.
The New York Knicks are headed into a busy off-season that will likely include them finding a solution at the point guard position. Whether that solution involves Derrick Rose and a youth prospect is yet to be seen, but they have the draft capital and assets to trade for an established option. There are a few teams that could be willing to part ways with their current point guard.
Three names specifically come to mind as suitable choices for New York, but the asset allocation differs vastly, so they must consider that when bringing in alternative players. The more efficient method would be to spend in free agency instead of trading away assets, especially with a deep FA class.
Evaluating three trades, the Knicks could execute:
1.) The mammoth Damian Lillard trade
Of course, the blockbuster deal would inevitably include Damian Lillard, who is a bonafide superstar at 31 years old. Last season, he averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and shot 45% from the field. For a high-volume shooter, attempting 10.5 shots from three per game, he averaged 39%, which is a mind-blowing success rate.
Acquiring Lillard to pair with Julius Randle would be a dream come true, but the Knicks would have to give up the farm in the process, which is something they should think long and hard about before pulling the trigger.
Portland would want a massive haul in return, which would likely include draft picks and young talent to work around. In this scenario, the Knicks would 100% percent have to part ways with RJ Barrett, who, in my opinion, should be off-limits.
-3 first-round picks
2.) The efficient Collin Sexton trade
The second trade that could be intriguing for New York is the acquisition of Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Collin Sexton. Reports have bubbled to the surface recently that Sexton could be on his way out of Cleveland, especially with the emergence of Darius Garland.
Sexton is only 22 years old and averaged 24 points this past season, shooting 47% from the field and 37% from downtown. Ultimately, if the Knicks are looking for a scoring point guard who can be a consistent threat driving to the rim and as a shooter, Sexton makes a ton of sense, but he offers little in terms of defense. There will be plenty of teams requesting a price tag for Sexton, and the Knicks luckily have plenty of assets to throw Cleveland’s way in this scenario. He also wouldn’t cost an exorbitant amount, compared to Lillard.
-2021 first-round picks
3.) Cardiac Kemba trade
The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired Kemba Walker from the Boston Celtics this off-season, and they could execute a flip and trade. Walker has traditionally been one of the best point guards in the NBA but has suffered from injuries the past few seasons.
Walker hasn’t played over 56 games in three years but is only one year removed from being an All-Star in four consecutive campaigns. He regularly averages over 20 points per game and is a solid facilitator but struggled from range this past season, shooting 36% over 8.2 attempts per contest. If he’s healthy, he’s capable of leading an offense admirably, but his contract is quite lofty for a team that might not value him as a consistent option due to his health history. He is set to make $36 million next season with a player option during the 2022-23 season.
Guaranteeing him for just one year might be a questionable move, especially if Oklahoma is demanding solid value in return. Walker is one player I would steer clear of based on the nature of his contract and bill of health.
-2021 first-round picks
Out of these three options, which trade would you execute if you were the Knicks (if any)? Comment below!
The Chicago Bears will begin training camp at Halas Hall in just over two weeks and one position that can be labeled as the best on the team is running back. Featuring workhorse running back David Montgomery and complementary pieces in Tarik Cohen and Damien Williams. Depth also exists with players like Artavis Pierce, Ryan Nall, C.J. Marable, and Khalil Herbert, giving the Bears multiple players with a dual-threat skillset.
As Chicago continues to prepare for the 2021 NFL season, let’s get into three questions regarding the running back position.
1) How good can Montgomery be in 2021?
“It wasn’t enough for me last year, knowing my untapped potential that I have within myself,” Montgomery said via the Bears official Youtube page. “Just being more vocal, being able to stand what I say and allow my words to carry a lot of strength when I speak. Doing all things right at all times.”
As Montgomery enters year three, Chicago’s revamped offensive line should allow for him to see an increase in production with 2000 yards from scrimmage being a reasonable expectation. Montgomery clearly has high expectations of himself, looking to become one of the NFL’s best running backs, joining names like Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, and Alvin Kamara.
If Montgomery takes the next step forward, he’ll be eligible for a contract extension next offseason but to have a breakout season, Chicago also needs to continue feeding Montgomery and using his dual-threat skillset to the fullest advantage.
2) How much do Cohen and Williams open up the offense?
Chicago added Williams this offseason and with Cohen returning, the Bears will be able to run multiple plays featuring two-back sets. Both players have shown the ability to be dual-threat playmakers, impacting Chicago’s running and passing attack.
Cohen and Williams will also allow Nagy to get creative in terms of playcalling, while providing quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Justin Fields with mismatches against linebackers, freeing up wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney for additional deep throws.
3) Is Khalil Herbert being slept on?
Chicago drafted Herbert with the 217th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. During his lone season at Virginia Tech, Herbert averaged nearly 27 yards per return, showcasing the ability to be an electric player on special teams.
“They really want me to come in here and learn as much as I can,” Herbert said via the Bears official Youtube page. “Establish a role on special teams, they’re really big on that. Getting in my playbook, learning as much as I can to help contribute to the team in some way or form”.
Herbert should carve out a role on special teams, giving the Bears a long-term option as a returner but he should be given opportunities to impact Chicago’s running and passing game throughout his rookie season.
The New York Yankees went into last night’s game at Minute Maid Park in Houston hoping for the sweep of the Astros after shutting them out in the first two games. Instead, what they got was a kick in the butt in the last inning of the series. They lost that game when their hated rival had a walk-off 8-7 win.
Yankees pitch well through eight
Following Jameson Taillon‘s best outing of the season yesterday, he again pitched well. He again had good control of his pitches, allowing only three hits over six innings of work. However, something that still dogs him is giving up home runs. Of the three hits allowed, two were for home runs—one to Maldonado in the third inning and one to Tucker in the sixth inning.
When Taillon’s night was done, Boone made an unusual move bringing in starter Domingo German. The Yankees entered the eighth inning with a tight 4-2 lead. With DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge on board, Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer to left to give the Yankees a five-run lead. At the bottom with that lead, German was masterful in getting a 1-2-3 inning and protecting that lead.
With the New York Yankees almost assured with the sweep of the Astros, everything went south for the Yankees. The Houston Astros that only scored two runs in 24 innings of the series erupted for six runs for the walk-off win. German gave up two runs, and he was replaced by Chad Green still with the lead; he gave up four runs for the complete collapse of the Yankee closers.
Yankees missed multiple opportunities
After shutting out the Houston Astros in the first two games, the Yankees in the eighth inning of last night’s game looked to be on the threshold of a complete three-game sweep of the Astros. But that was not to be as the Astros would score six runs for a stunning walk-off win. But that didn’t have to happen. Something that has dogged the Yankees all season long is the lack of timely hitting. That lack of hitting was evident again last night as the Yankees missed several opportunities to score far more runs. The Yankees went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position. Although the Yankees had plenty of traffic on the bases, they got 8 hits and a season-high 14 walks off of Astros pitching.
The New York Yankees have a closer problem
The New York Yankees have had plenty of problems this season with starting pitching and a lineup that most of the time fails to hit, causing the Yankees to lose games. But now, an even bigger problem may be emerging. The Yankees don’t have a dependable closer.
Aroldis Chapman, after a strong start to the season, not giving up a run in his first 18 games, he’s given up a whopping 14 earned runs over his last 5 2/3 innings for a 22.24 ERA. It’s not a question of his “Cuban Missile” power; it’s still there, but he no longer has consistent command over his blazing fastball, and the results have been disastrous. In his last four attempts to save, he has given up 9 runs while walking 8 and only recording 5 strikeouts.
In a huge implosion against the New York Mets, he gave up 3 runs in the ninth inning of the first game of a 7 inning doubleheader on July 4th. Then, on July 6th against the Seattle Mariners, he gave up a hit and walked two with an eleven-run lead. He got out of the inning, but it took 24 pitches to register 3 strikeouts. Since then, Boone has been afraid to send him out onto to mound in save situations. The next possible closer is Zack Britton, but; he has been on the IL with a hamstring injury and is not ready to return. Next in line is Chad Green, who can be lights-out but isn’t consistent, as seen in last night’s game when he gave up three runs and took the loss. The Yankees have to find out what’s causing Chapman’s dilemma and get it fixed sooner than later.