New York Giants: Carter Coughlin should see his role increase Sunday

New York Giants, Carter Coughlin

The New York Giants were hit with brutally bad news on Monday morning. During Sunday’s painful loss to the Atlanta Falcons, inside linebacker Blake Martinez went down with a knee injury. On Monday it was announced that Martinez tore his ACL and would miss the remainder of the season.

Blake Martinez is a huge loss on the Giants’ defense. Last year, in Martinez’s first season with the Giants, he recorded 151 combined tackles. This was his fourth year in a row totaling 140 or more combined tackles.

Without Blake Martinez on the field, the Giants are going to need some young linebackers to step up and start making plays. Tae Crowder had a career game against Atlanta filling in for Blake Martinez, according to PFF. Unfortunately, Crowder is also dealing with an injury now. Tae is dealing with a hamstring injury and is QUESTIONABLE for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

With Blake Martinez OUT and Tae Crowder hampered, second-year linebacker Carter Coughlin should see his role increase on Sunday.

Carter Coughlin stats and highlights

In his rookie season with the Giants, Carter Coughlin played edge rusher, as he did in college. He had some impressive moments as a rookie and showed some real promise. Coughlin racked up 17 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack in 14 games and two starts.

Heading into year two, the Giants had Coughlin transition to a new position: inside linebacker. After the preseason, this transition seemed to be a great success. According to Pro Football Focus, Carter Coughlin graded out 91.8 on 24 snaps in his preseason debut at inside linebacker. Coughlin totaled five tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss in the Giants’ first preseason game. He finished the preseason with eight tackles, three pressures, and two sacks on 69 snaps.

Carter Coughlin looked phenomenal in the preseason. However, he has barely played in 2021 (11 defensive snaps in three games). Carter Coughlin has shown promise in the past. With injuries piling up at the position, it seems to be about time Coughlin enters the lineup and sees his role increase.

UFC Vegas 38 Preview: Thiago Santos – Johnny Walker

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC Vegas 38, we will see a battle between two of the more exciting light heavyweights in the division. Former title challenger Thiago Santos (21-9) takes on the exciting Johnny Walker (18-5) in the main event.

Johnny Walker earned a UFC contract on The Contender Series then proceeded to open everyone’s eyes after he debuted. Walker started out his UFC career going a perfect 3-0 with three knockouts.

None of those fights went more than two minutes. He rode that momentum into a fight with Corey Anderson. However, after his third win, he dislocated his shoulder in a victory celebration which seemed to derail his success. Walker is just 1-2 since that injury.

Another fighter who hasn’t been the same since injury is Thiago Santos. Santos just challenged Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title back in 2019. He knocked out the current champion Jan Blachowicz to earn that shot against Jones.

However, Santos tore his knee completely apart in that fight. He returned last year and he’s gone 0-2 since returning from injury. He’s going to have to prove to everyone that he’s still the same guy he was before the knee injury at UFC Vegas 38.

UFC Vegas 38 Prediction

I’m really struggling with this prediction ahead of tomorrow night. To be completely honest, I’m not sure what to expect from either guy. At one point, these two looked like two of the more dangerous light heavyweights in the division.

However, neither has looked great since returning from injury. Santos doesn’t even remotely look like the same guy. His movement in his last two UFC bouts has looked really shaky and he just doesn’t seem as confident.

Walker on the other hand has a chin that terrifies me. That said, I do like the way he’s able to move and I really like his reach advantage in this one. I’ve gone back and forth and I don’t know how, but I think Johnny Walker is going to pick up the victory tomorrow night. Something tells me he’s going to be able to land more than a flat-footed Santos.

Prediction: Johnny Walker by Decision

New York Jets WR Denzel Mims will be active vs. Tennessee

The sophomore receiver is set to return to the New York Jets’ lineup after spending the last two games as an inactive healthy scratch.

New York Jets head coach announced on Friday that Denzel Mims will be part of the active roster for Sunday’s Week 4 contest against the Tennessee Titans (1 p.m. ET, CBS). Mims, the Jets’ second-round pick from 2020’s virtual draft, has not dressed in either of Gang Green’s prior couple of contests.

The announcement of Mims’ reactivation also came with the declaration that his fellow receivers, Elijah Moore and Jeff Smith, would miss Tennessee’s visit with concussions. Moore was removed in the late stages of last weekend’s loss in Denver while Smith was injured in a car accident on his way to the team’s Florham Park facility this week.

“Denzel will be active this weekend. He’s going to get (an) opportunity,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “Hopefully, he takes advantage of it, and we’re expecting him to. He’s stacked up a third consecutive week of great, deliberate practice. He’s really getting comfortable within the offense. We’re excited to see him get his opp.”

The status of Mims has been one of the premature subplots of the 2021 season. New York (0-3) upgraded its receiver corps with the services of the rookie Moore, Keelan Cole, and former Titan Corey Davis. The new arrivals partly contributed to Mims’ burial on the depth chart while Saleh also expressed concerns that the Baylor alum hadn’t mastered all three receiver positions and did not contribute on special teams.

Saleh said that the Jets were “comfortable” in using Mims on Sunday.

“It’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t even need to talk to the coach anymore,” Saleh said of Mims. “He’s just on the football field, he’s getting himself lined up and you’re seeing the speed and the athleticism that he has. So, just a matter of getting him those opportunities, taking it to Sunday and executing with his teammates and being the guy that we expect him to be.”

In addition to Mims, the Jets are also set to welcome back Jamison Crowder, who missed the first three games of the year after a bout with COVID-19. Crowder has been the Jets’ top receiver over the past two seasons. Defensively, Ashtyn Davis will return after missing the first three games on injured reserve with a foot injury that kept him out of the latter stages of his rookie season. Saleh said that Davis “obviously” won’t be fully available but expect him to work in rotation with Jarrod Wilson and Sharrod Neasman, who was likewise activated from the IR.

On the other side, Tennessee (2-1) will be missing some major contributors, head coach Mike Vrabel confirmed on Friday. Top receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones will miss the games with hamstring issues, while primary defenders Bud Dupree (knee) and Caleb Farley (shoulder) will also be missing. Punter Brett Kern (groin) is also out.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

UFC Vegas 38 Preview: Kevin Holland – Kyle Daukaus

Kevin Holland

In the co-main event of UFC Vegas 38, we will see a battle in the middleweight division. One of the fighters of the year in 2020 Kevin Holland (21-7) is back as he’s taking on the tough Kyle Daukaus (10-2).

Daukaus will be making his fourth appearance in the UFC. So far, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Daukaus. He made his debut last June and he had the tough task of taking on Brendan Allen on short notice.

Allen was the massive favorite, but Daukaus put on an incredible fight and really made Allen work for the victory. Ultimately, Allen did get his hand raised. Daukaus picked up a win in his next fight before dropping his last fight to Phil Hawes.

Standing across from Daukaus tomorrow night will be one of the UFC‘s budding stars, Kevin Holland. Well, Holland was on his way to stardom before 2021. Holland went an incredible 5-0 in 2020 which earned him a main event slot in his first fight of the year.

He took on Derek Brunson and was grounded by the wrestling of Brunson. Then, Holland took on Marvin Vettori and saw the same result. Holland has now lost two in row and has his back up against a wall at UFC Vegas 38.

UFC Vegas 38 Prediction

Prior to this fight, Kevin Holland has spent a lot of time with former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. In fact, Hendricks is going to be in Holland’s corner tomorrow night.

Holland decided to switch things up after he discovered how much help he needed in defensive wrestling. He’s going to need to really improve if he wants to snap his losing streak tomorrow night.

Holland is dangerous on the feet and Daukaus is very dangerous on the ground. This fight is going to come down to whether or not Daukaus can get Holland down. I think he will at some point, but I believe Holland will do enough defending.

Holland will be able to defend enough takedowns to keep the fight standing long enough to have some big moments. I’m not convinced a finish will happen at UFC Vegas 38, but I think Kevin Holland gets the win.

Prediction: Kevin Holland by Unanimous Decision

New York Giants: Jason Garrett shows no fear of losing job

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

If New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is scared of losing his job, he’s doing a good job of not showing it.

Garrett might be the most criticized figure associated with the Giants this season, and his offense has been singled out as a major factor in two out of the team’s three losses so far. This has led to, despite it still being early in the season, a lot of talk about how long Garrett should have before losing his play-calling duties or his job outright.

The talk has made it all the way to Garrett himself, who was asked on Thursday about the possibility of losing his spot as play-caller for the offense. However, he didn’t seem concerned by the question.

Jason Garrett responds to a tough question

“I don’t really think about that,” Garrett said. “We’ve just got to get better. We come in and we work hard to try to do that as coaches and as players every day. Had a good day yesterday, got to come back and have a good day today.”

Earlier in the press conference, Garrett blamed the lack of points on self-inflicted mistakes and brought up the need to ‘execute’ once again.

“I think we’ve done a good job moving the football, both run and pass, attacking different ways. We just have to in that situation do a better job executing.”

Needing to execute has been the default answer by staff members and players this season when confronted with the team’s winless record. Fact of the matter is, there’s only so long that a coach can blame a lack of execution before the coach himself is blamed for the players not executing. For Garrett, we’re already far past that point.

Garrett has had over a season to refine his system, and rather than the system showing better results with better talent added into the mix, it looks like the system is dragging those talents down.

It’s true that the Giants need to do a better job executing. But it’s also clear that right now, many fans and members of the media alike see Garrett as a big part of the cause behind that problem.

Whether the team’s higher level decision makers come around to see things the same way may largely depend on whether the Giants can have an offensive turnaround in the next few games, and play more like they did against Washington rather than against Atlanta.

Knicks’ Kemba Walker raves about togetherness of team and winning mentality

immanuel quickley, rj barrett, new york knicks

The New York Knicks are on the right path toward becoming a more prominent team in the NBA after years of struggling. The 2020-21 season represented a shift in culture and mentality, aiding in the acquisition of several big names this off-season, including Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker.

Walker has expressed his excitement about joining the Knicks, his hometown club, after being raised in the Bronx. Walker has spent the last few seasons with the Charlotte Hornets and Boston Celtics, eventually being bought out and finding his way back to New York.

Walker’s new team has welcomed him with open arms, and the veteran point guard has reciprocated his excitement. He’s noticed how his new teammates are focused on developing and establishing a winning mine said before the season begins.

“It’s been fun. Guys work hard. And these guys are really together … For the most part, the things that I’ve noticed is how guys pick each other up in practice.”

They say practice makes perfect, and the Knicks undoubtedly take that to another level with their intensity. All-Star power forward Julius Randle mentioned several days ago how the team has been scrimmaging before training camp began — exerting maximum effort to prepare themselves for a grueling 82 game season.

Walker raved about the emotions and feelings of being with the Knicks back in the city:

“Every team gives you sweatsuits and bags. My New York sweatsuit just hit a little bit different. I just feel like me being from here — like, I’m really, really from here. Born and raised in the Bronx, you know? So, it’s definitely just a little bit more special.”

Some of the younger players on the team are looking forward to working with Kemba and fellow veteran Derrick Rose. Rookie Quentin Grimes is ecstatic he will have two of the league’s most famous players at his fingertips to learn from and follow.

“Having two big-time veterans like that is going to be really big for my development”

Head coach Tom Thibodeau has done a great job bringing in talented players who can also act as mentors and leaders for the younger guys on the team.

New Yankees Preview of the final regular season series with the Rays

Suppose the last few series weren’t urgent enough or exciting enough for New York Yankee fans. In that case this weekend it will be upfront and in your face, over the top exciting at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx as the Yankees play their final regular-season series with their rival Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have already clinched the AL East, so basically, they have nothing to lose, but believe it, they won’t let the Yankees off the hook.

The Tampa Bay Rays hate the New York Yankees for a variety of reasons. The tensions between these two teams have been building for years. So if you think for one moment that the Rays will roll over and let the Yankees win, think again. They will do anything to shame the Yankees or knock them out of a home-field advantage in the wild card. They may realign their pitching for the postseason, but you can be sure the Rays’ hitters will not let up on Yankee pitching.

Much of this series will depend on the powerful New York Yankees remaining powerful. Hitting will be all-important. The Yankees hit 8 long balls in the Toronto Blue Jays series. Three by Aaron Judge.

Tonight, October 1, 7:05 pm EDT

Tonight the Yankees will send Nasty Nestor Cortes Jr. to the mound. You can be sure that “Bronxie,” the turtle that he bought for the team, won’t be on the mound with him, but don’t be surprised after the game if he says he rubbed his little back for luck before taking the field. “Bronxie” has been a winning charm for the Yankees since his purchase and has become the unofficial mascot of the Yankees.

Cortes is a lefty that is 2-2 with an ERA of 2.85 and 98 strikeouts. Please pay more attention to his ERA than his record. The reliever turned starter is a much better pitcher than his stats would indicate. His range of pitches and different arm angles mystify hitters. Since becoming a starter late in July, the Yankees have won eight of his eleven starts.  Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi have been quite successful off him.

Shane McClanahan has been one of the best Rays pitchers this season. The lefty is 10-6 with an ERA of 3.44 and 138 strikeouts. This game will probably be the most challenging of the three pitting these two pitchers together. McClanahan is coming off his 10th win of the season against the Miami Marlins. If anything has plagued him this season, it is winning several, followed by losing several. Before the win, he is coming off losses in his previous three starts. Other than DJ LeMahieu, the top of the Yankee line-up has not been successful off on him; the bottom is a different story. Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela both have .600 batting averages off him in 5 at-bats.

Saturday, October 2, 1:05 pm EDT

Saturday’s matinee will feature the matchup of veteran Jordan Montgomery against the young Shane Baz. Montgomery is a lefty that is 6-6 with an ERA of 3.49 and 159 strikeouts. “Monty” is the Yankee poster boy for getting little run support in his games. He is coming off two wins against the Texas Rangers and the Boston Red Sox. He has had only one bad outing this season. It was on September 10th when he gave up seven earned runs in just 3.1 innings of work. The Rays hitters have not been particularly successful of him, but he will have to watch out for Manuel Margot, who in 14 at-bats has a .357 batting average.

Shane Baz will be a mystery to Yankee hitters as they have not seen him pitch except on video. He made his major league debut on September 20th and has won both of his games against the Toronto Blue jays and the Miami Marlins. He has pitched a total of 10.2 innings. In his Toronto game, he gave up two home runs. In his Marlins start, he allowed three hits in his scoreless 5.2 innings.

Sunday, October 3, 3:05 pm EDT

As a note, all games on the last day of the season will start at 3:05. The New York Yankees want to see how the first two games go before deciding on a starter for game three of the series. They would like to save Gerrit Cole for the wild card game, but he will be available on short rest if the need arises.

Whoever the Yankees send to the mound, he will face the Rays’ Michael Wacha, a righty that is 3-5 with an elevated ERA of 5.26 and 119 strikeouts. Wacha has already met the Yankees three times this season, winning two of those games. However, he has not pitched well lately. The Rays have lost eight of his last eleven starts and are coming off four losses in a row. Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu have been big trouble for Wacha.

All three of these games will be televised on the YES Network and Bally Sports Sun. Tonight’s game and the game on Saturday will also be on MLBN out of market.

Yankees ace road trip with 5-1 record: ‘I wish it was 6-0’

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park over the weekend and took two out of three in Toronto against the Blue Jays this week, thanks to their 6-2 victory in the series finale on Thursday after dropping Wednesday’s contest.

The red-hot Yankees have won eight of their last nine games and are now 91-68, two games ahead of the Red Sox and the surprising Seattle Mariners (both 89-70). A 5-1 record in their road trip against two teams fighting for the playoffs is not too shabby.

“I wish it was 6-0,” Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge said to after hitting two home runs in Thursday’s win. “We went out there, we played some tough opponents in some tough meaningful games. It wasn’t a postseason game, but it definitely had the atmosphere and the feel.”

Toronto (88-71) is now one game out of the second spot after dropping two out of three with the Yankees, and will play the Baltimore Orioles, who took two from the Red Sox and complicated their chances.

The Yankees’ magic number is now at two

The Yankees will return home to face the AL East champions, the Tampa Bay Rays, for three crucial games. The Bombers did their homework in Boston and Toronto, and that has everyone in the organization feeling good.

“This was as tough a trip as you’re going to face with everything on the line,” manager Aaron Boone said. “To go 5-1 against two really good clubs, it finishes off a really nice trip. We’re just getting started. We’ve got more to do.”

Judge echoed that sentiment.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. “The job’s not finished. We’ve got to keep going. Even if we can clinch tomorrow, you’ve still got two more at home [against the Rays], and we want that home-field advantage.”

The Yankees’ magic number as of Friday morning is two. That means they can clinch tonight with a win and a Boston OR Seattle loss.

Yankees’ future star named MLB Pipeline’s Hitting Prospect of Year

anthony volpe, yankees

Kansas City Royals’ prospects Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto, and RJ Melendez all hit 30 homers, and the shortstop was very close to a 30-30 season. Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene were brilliant in the Detroit Tigers’ fans, Triston Casas and Jarren Duran were spectacular for the Boston Red Sox, and so on. There were many hitting prospects with marvelous performances in 2021, but none of them better than New York Yankees’ shortstop Anthony Volpe.

The Yankees’ top prospect was named MLB Pipeline’s 2021 Hitting Prospect of the Year after breaking out and reaching two levels: Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley.

Baltimore Orioles’ righty Grayson Rodriguez is the Pitching Prospect of the Year.

The Yankees’ top prospect had a season to remember

Volpe, the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2019, hit .294/.423/.604 with 27 home runs, 33 stolen bases, a 1.027 OPS and 170 wRC+. He hit a whopping 68 extra-base hits between the two levels.

The Yankees’ coaches and minor league managers are thoroughly impressed with his progress this year.

“He stays on the ball for a really long time, but his attacking ability is great,” said Hudson Valley manager Dan Fiorito to ”He finds a way to get the ball in the air and drive line drives to all fields. He has a great ability to keep the ball off the ground.”

His swing has earned him high praise around the organization.

“Honestly, it feels natural,” the player said. “I never consciously thought to have more launch angle or stuff like that. I just feel like I can get to a lot more pitches, and when I’m hitting the ball hard — and I’ve been hitting the ball a lot harder — those balls that probably would have been doubles or singles in years past, a couple of those are going over the fence now.”

The Yankees hope he can be ready to take over shortstop for the big league club at some point in 2022 or 2023.

Bellator 267 Preview: Michael “Venom” Page – Douglas Lima 2

Later this afternoon we are going to see a big time fight in the Bellator welterweight division. In today’s headliner, we are going to see the highly anticipated rematch between Michael “Venom” Page (19-1) and former Bellator champion, Douglas Lima (32-9).

This is a massive fight with huge implications for the career of Douglas Lima. Just a few fights ago, people were talking about Lima as one of the best fighters in the world regardless of promotion. He was the Bellator welterweight champ and he had a knockout over MVP.

Lima decided to try and become a two-division champion last year. He moved up to take on Gegard Mousasi at 185 pounds. He lost a lopsided decision in his failed attempt. Then he got dominated in his return to welterweight to lose his Bellator title.

Now, his back is against the wall against a hungry Michael Page. MVP has dazzled fans for some time now with his striking ability and his knockouts. He’s won five fights in a row since his shocking loss to Lima. Today, he’s in his hometown today looking for revenge.

Bellator 267 Prediction

I think we are going to see a very technical matchup on the feet at Bellator 267. MVP got a little too flashy in the last fight which is how he ultimately got knocked out. Yes, I know that is his traditional style.

However, I think he will be much more measured in this rematch because he knows he can’t lose to Lima twice. On the flip side, I expect to see the best version of Lima with his back against the wall like it is.

When it comes down to it, I really like MVP in this spot. I think he’s going to take a very measured approach with striking from the outside. In the end, I think he’ll land enough to score more points at Bellator 267.

I wouldn’t be surprised by a finish by either man, but I think we see a point battle with MVP coming out on top.

Prediction: Michael “Venom” Page by Unanimous Decision