New York Giants: Sterling Shepard to end season on injured reserve with Achilles injury

new york giants, sterling shepard

The New York Giants will be missing more than just Daniel Jones through the final games of the season. The injury curse that has been present all season long as continued, and this time it’s Sterling Shepard to go down. The wide receiver clearly picked up a worrying non-contact injury during the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and we know now that this injury was a torn Achilles that has seen Shepard sent to the injured reserve.

Shepard is headed to the IR list at the same time as Jones, who was injured earlier but wasn’t immediately ruled out. This will cap off a season where Shepard struggled to stay on the field due to multiple injuries. Despite starting out looking like the potential top receiver on the roster, Shepard missed his first game in week 4 and has seen his role in the offense diminish since week 6 when he had 10 receptions.

While this isn’t Shepard’s first time dealing with injury problems, this season is significant because he’ll finish with the lowest games played and overall yards of his career. In 2019, Shepard played in 10 games but managed 576 yards. This season, he’s only made it into 7 games and has 366 yards. His sole touchdown this year also leaves him with the lowest total of his career in that department.

What does this mean for Sterling Shepard?

All of this, of course, leaves Shepard in an uncertain future position.

Shepard isn’t in a player that the organization or fanbase is in a rush to see gone. He’s a solid competitor, and headed into this season looked like the reliable option for Daniel Jones among a number of new additions at wide receiver.

But his injury history across multiple seasons and his cost against the cap while headed into a likely rebuild next year make it debatable whether he’ll play for the Giants again.

His cap hit for 2022 rises to nearly $12.5M, and at that price, it looks like Shepard will have to end up as one of the team’s cap space cuts. It’s an unfortunate situation all around, but in their current state, the Giants aren’t able to throw money at a wide receiver who is having the worst season of his career and only played in 7 games.

UFC: Dana White doesn’t think Nick Diaz should fight again

Back in September at UFC 267, Nick Diaz (26-10, 1 NC) made his highly anticipated return. Diaz hadn’t fought since January of 2015 when he took on Anderson Silva in the middleweight division. For years, Diaz has talked about coming back, but it always fell through.

This year, Diaz got a little more serious about making a UFC return. After meeting with Dana White, the promotion started moving towards a return bout. A rematch with Robbie Lawler was put on the main card of UFC 267.

Fans were encouraged especially after seeing Diaz’s social media posts from earlier in the year where he looked to be in amazing shape. However, that same sentiment was not felt during fight week. At the last minute, the Diaz camp requested that the welterweight fight get moved to middleweight.

Lawler and the promotion agreed so the fight was moved up to 185 pounds. Diaz didn’t look in peak shape at all prior to the fight. There were a lot of questions regarding his commitment to things prior to the fight.

UFC President thinks Diaz should hang it up for good

Nick Diaz still looked good in spots at UFC 267. His boxing skills looked good and he was able to land some really good shots and combinations on Robbie Lawler. However, it was clear that this wasn’t prime Nick Diaz.

Diaz was ultimately stopped by Lawler. Afterwards, Diaz has hinted that he wanted to fight again and he’s talked about that on social media. However, that contradicts his attitude he’s always had towards fighting which is that he’s not a fan.

UFC president Dana White had an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto over the weekend. Nick Diaz was a topic that was discussed and White made it clear that he doesn’t believe that Nick Diaz should fight again.

White talked about Diaz’s desire to fight and his reasons for fighting. He mentioned that Diaz fights because he needs to and not because he wants to. This is a dangerous mindset for a fighter which is why White believes he should be done.

Time will tell what the UFC ultimately decides to do with Diaz. I believe that if Diaz gets himself in prime shape that he can still be a factor in the promotion. Would he be a title contender again? Maybe not, but I believe that Diaz still has fight left in the tank.

UFC booking Marlon Moraes – Song Yadong

The UFC is close to finalizing a fun matchup in the bantamweight division. MMA Junkie was the first to report earlier this afternoon that the promotion was targeting a matchup between “Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-9-1) and Song Yadong (18-5-1).

The matchup is expected to take place at a UFC Fight Night on March 12th. For Song, this is a massive opportunity against a former title challenger. Recently, Song was listed as ESPN’s top fighter under the age of 25 and for good reason.

The UFC prospect from China has looked very solid in his young career. Since making his debut with the UFC, Song has gone an impressive 7-1. During that stretch, he has very impressive wins over the likes of Chito Vera, Casey Kenney, and Julio Arce.

The lone loss came to another top prospect in Kyler Phillips. However, the wins over Kenney and Arce followed the lone loss in his UFC career. If Song can pick up the win in March over Moraes, it will prove that he’s ready to share the cage with guys near the top of the bantamweight division.

UFC’s Moraes looking to snap losing streak

While Song looks to be surging towards the top of the UFC’s bantamweight division, Marlon Moraes is sinking like an anchor. It’s crazy to think about where Marlon Moraes is now compared to where he was when the calendar moved to 2019.

At the beginning of 2019, many considered Moraes to be the best bantamweight on the roster. He was lined up to fight Henry Cejudo for the vacant bantamweight title and he was pegged as the favorite. After one round, he looked like he was going to cruise.

However, as the fight went on, Cejudo started to break Moraes. Cejudo stopped Moraes and started him down this tough path. Since the Cejudo loss, Moraes is just 1-3. The lone win came against Jose Aldo in a fight that most believe he lost. Aldo actually got a title shot off the loss to Moraes which should tell you something.

His last fight came back at UFC 266 against Merab Dvalishvili. In the first round of that fight, Moraes hurt Merab bad. Moraes looked like he was going to get a TKO win. However, Merab survived. When Merab survived, it broke Moraes.

Merab would go on to finish Moraes in the second round. Right now, Moraes is looked at as a guy that will break if he can’t finish you early. He’s going to have his hands full in March and he might be fighting for his UFC career. If he loses again, he might be staring at the harsh reality of getting cut by the world’s premier MMA promotion.

New York Giants shutting down QB Daniel Jones for the season

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are shutting down starting quarterback Daniel Jones for the remainder of the 2021 season, per Jordan Raanan of ESPN. Daniel Jones has missed the last three games with a neck injury he suffered in the Giants’ Week 12 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants are optimistic that this injury will not affect Jones’s long-term future.

At 4-10, the New York Giants’ season is all but over. They are out of the playoff race and ready to look ahead to the offseason. There is no point in Daniel Jones returning to play this season with nothing left to compete toward. The Giants officially placed Daniel Jones on the reserve/injured list, ending his third season in the NFL prematurely.

Statement from the Giants’ medical staff:

“Over the course of the past few weeks, Daniel has been examined by Dr. Frank Cammisa of Hospital for Special Surgery and Dr. Robert Watkins of the Marina Spine Center at Marina Del Rey Hospital. Our medical team has continued to consult with Dr. Cammisa and Dr. Watkins regarding Daniel’s condition and symptoms, and at this point, Daniel has not been cleared for contact. We felt the prudent decision was to place Daniel on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. With continued rest and treatment, we expect a full recovery.” – Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer Ronnie Barnes via Giants.com

What this means for the Giants going forward

The New York Giants have made this decision to preserve the future of Daniel Jones’s career. The Giants hold two first-round picks in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft but are unlikely to spend a first-round pick on a quarterback. Daniel Jones is probably going to be the Giants’ starting quarterback next season.

Giving Daniel Jones a head start on the offseason should provide him with ample time to recover and prepare for next season. For the remainder of the year, the Giants will continue to start backup quarterback Mike Glennon (unless he loses his job to Jake Fromm). Jake Fromm saw playing time at the end of the Giants’ loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.

There is a chance Jake Fromm takes over going forward. Joe Judge and the coaching staff will have discussions this week:

We got to a point in the game where I wanted to see what Jake could do, point blank. We weren’t doing enough moving the ball otherwise, so I wanted to make sure I had the chance to see Jake and that will obviously open up a conversation about what we’re going to do this week. We’ll talk about it as a staff and we’ll make the best decision for the team. – Head Coach Joe Judge

What this means for Daniel Jones

Ultimately, the 2021 season did not go as planned for Daniel Jones. This was meant to be his breakout third year. Instead, the Giants’ offense was a putrid mess (with or without Jones). Daniel Jones has missed starts with injuries in each of his first three seasons.

Daniel Jones’s final stats for the 2021 season:

  • 232/361 (64.3%), 2,428 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions
  • 62 carries, 298 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 7 fumbles

It seems like Daniel Jones will at least get one more year to prove himself as the franchise quarterback. But one must imagine that DJ is on thin ice after three unsuccessful years as the New York Giants’ starter.

UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas will take on Carla Esparza next

It looks like former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza (18-6) is finally going to get her second crack at gold. The former champion has won five fights in a row to earn this shot at the title.

Dana White confirmed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that Esparza would “100%” be next for the strawweight title. This news comes after a month of uncertainty where it didn’t appear that Esparza was going to get the shot.

Back in April, Rose Namajunas (11-4) knocked out Zhang Weili to become the first woman to become a two-time UFC champion. After the fight was over, many expected that Esparza would be next.

However, the UFC wasn’t so sure about it. The word around the promotion was that they didn’t believe the Esparza fight was a big fight for Namajunas in terms of interest. With that in mind, they decided to do an immediate rematch with Weili.

Esparza was perplexed by the decision as most were in the MMA community. She said that she would wait for her title shot, however, Dana White mentioned that it might be a mistake to wait.

Namajunas defeated Weili in the rematch at UFC 268 to retain her title. After the fight, she said that she wanted to face off with Esparza next and she was confused by the promotions reluctance. Now, it appears that the UFC has given in.

UFC making the rematch

Esparza has done everything needed to earn a rematch and the storyline is there for a fight with Namajunas. These two first met for the inaugural UFC strawweight title back in 2014.

Esparza submitted Namajunas to become the first strawweight champion. However, he reign didn’t last long as she lost the title in her first defense. Ever since then, she’s been working towards getting back to the top.

While she’s had some bumps in the road, Esparza has been on an incredible run as of late. The former UFC champion has won five fights in a row which includes wins over some of the more compelling contenders in the division.

Her last two wins came over Marina Rodriguez and Yan Xiaonan. The Yan fight was incredible impressive as she scored a TKO victory. That win alone should’ve earned her a UFC title shot.

Despite losing the first fight, I’m expecting Namajunas to be a massive favorite in the rematch. While both have improved since the first fight, Namajunas is completely transformed. Esparza is getting the title shot she wanted, but it’s a massive mountain to climb whenever they fight.

After loss at UFC Vegas 45, what’s next for Wonderboy Thompson?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 45, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (16-6-1) took on Belal Muhammad (20-3, 1 NC) in the co-main event of the evening. This was a big matchup for the welterweight division.

Wonderboy was trying to bounce back after his loss to Gilbert Burns over the summer. Had Wonderboy won that fight, he would’ve likely been the next in line for a shot at the UFC welterweight title.

However, Burns got the best of him. Burns was able to use a grappling heavy attack to neutralize the great striker Wonderboy. Given his wrestling background, many thought that Belal Muhammad would institute that same gameplan.

Turns out, that’s exactly what happened. From the opening bell at UFC Vegas 45, Muhammad gave Wonderboy no space to operate. Wonderboy was stifled by the attack and really couldn’t get anything going.

When they were in space, Wonderboy was definitely landing the better shots. However, those moments of space were few and very far between. In the end, Muhammad won a very lopsided decision at UFC Vegas 45.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 45?

This was a really tough one for Wonderboy Thompson. Had he won this fight, he would’ve likely only been one more impressive win from a title shot. However, he fell short again and now he’s looking at a complete reset after back-to-back losses.

With that, who should the UFC pair him with next? Well, the most logical matchup for Wonderboy would be another fighter who is a terrible matchup for him stylistically.

If you’re looking at the division, a great next fight would be Michael Chiesa (17-6). Both men have suffered back-to-back losses and are at a similar spot in the division. Again, this is a tough spot for Wonderboy given the matchup.

Another potential fight could be a fight with Neil Magny (25-8). Magny is 4-1 in his last five and his last win is the same as Wonderboy’s and that’s a decision win over Geoff Neal. This would be another solid route for the UFC to go.

Damyean Dotson returns to Knicks via hardship exception rule

New York Knicks, Damyean Dotson

The New York Knicks have signed Damyean Dotson as their second replacement player after Tyler Hall.

Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported the signing.

Dotson was the Knicks’ second-round pick in 2017 and played for the team and its G League affiliate in Westchester until 2020.

Dotson played for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season after getting waived by the Knicks. He has career averages of 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 211 games. He enjoyed his best year in the league with the Knicks in the 2018-19 season, averaging 10.7 points per game.

Dotson will be available to play for the Knicks when they host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.

Based on the new memo agreed upon by the NBA and NBPA, the Knicks are allowed to sign a replacement player for each COVID-19 case. Currently, the Knicks have six players in the health and safety protocols.

Obi Toppin, the first Knicks player to test positive, is scheduled to finish his 10-day quarantine Monday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC Vegas 45: Is Angela Hill cursed?

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC Vegas 45, we saw a very entertaining matchup in the women’s strawweight division. One of the more popular fighters in the promotion, Angela Hill (13-11) was taking on the dangerous Amanda Lemos (11-1-1).

Both of these ladies were inside the UFC’s top fifteen entering the contest. In the first round, Lemos really showed off her power by dropping Hill. She used a beautiful combination of a front kick followed up by some straight shots.

Without question, Lemos won the first round. However, just like she normally does, Angela Hill answered back. Hill came out strong in the second round and was landing big shots. In fact, she even rocked Lemos at one point. I had the second round going to Hill.

The third round was very competitive with both fighters having good moments. Ultimately, I leaned towards Hill in the final round. The judges have not been kind to Hill in her UFC career and this was going to be another close decision.

In the end, it was a split decision that went towards Amanda Lemos at UFC Vegas 45. It was the fourth split decision loss that Hill has suffered over the past couple of years. One has to wonder after UFC Vegas 45 if Hill is just cursed at this point.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 45?

Dana White said after UFC Vegas 45 that he believed that Hill won the fight. As mentioned this is the fourth time that Hill has lost a close fight by split decision. Two of those other split decision losses came over the last couple of years against top contenders Michelle Waterson and Claudia Gadelha.

Had Hill been given the nod there, who knows where she would be in terms of the rest of the UFC’s strawweight division. Hell, she might’ve been near the very top or challenging for a title had she been given the nod there.

Instead, Hill is 0-4 every time there’s been a split decision in her UFC career. Well, after this latest setback, where does Hill go from here? I think she should still be taking on top fifteen talent. She’s proven that’s where she belongs.

In terms of an opponent, I like Hill taking on Virna Jandiroba (17-3) next. Both of these contenders are right next to each other in the rankings and both are coming off losses. This seems like a good next fight for both.

Knicks have a situation boiling between Tom Thibodeau and Kemba Walker

knicks, kemba walker

If not for the COVID-19 situation the New York Knicks are currently dealing with, it is likely that veteran point guard Kemba Walker wouldn’t have played for the rest of the season. Despite the Knicks losing the majority of games that Walker was benched for, Tom Thibodeau didn’t think twice about bringing him back.

That is made clear because Walker stated that he and Thibs didn’t have any contact during the nine-game stretch in which he sat on the bench rooting for his teammates.

Reporters asked Kemba Walker if he had spoken to Thibodeau during the nine-game stretch after the benching:

“No sir.”

When a player and coach are clearly at odds, you can sense a bit of hostility in the air.

Walker’s refute to being exiled came across as a bit hostile but with a positive twist. It’s clear the veteran point guard is there to support his teammates, but it was evident that he lost some respect for Thibs during the process:

“Was I confused?” Walker said. “No. I’m not starting, I ain’t playing,” Walker said. “So I’m here for my team, I’m here for my teammates. I can’t say it enough. Whatever’s asked of me that’s what I’m here for.”

Due to the massive number of Covid cases within the team, Walker was asked to play against his former team, the Boston Celtics. Walker had something to prove, and he had arguably his best game of the season, scoring 29 points and recording three assists and six rebounds. He shot 45.5% from 3-PT range.

This is the Kemba that we saw earlier in the season, though, a monster performance offensively and then a disappearance the night after. He would go from double-digit scoring to earning just two points in the blink of an eye, something the Knicks saw as unsustainable.

On the season, Walker is averaging 12.6 points, 41.7% shooting from three-point range and 42.6% from the field. The major reason Thibodeau elected to bench him was because of his defense.

Walker hosts a 115.9 defensive rating, the highest in his entire career. His -11.9 net rating is also the lowest of his career, indicating either a massive shift in a strategy that does not conform to Walker’s strengths or a big drop off in quality. In addition, his assist numbers are down a few percentage points.

The Knicks had a justifiable reason to move away from Walker and begin relying on some of the younger pieces, notably Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes. However, with Walker clearly frustrated about his lack of playing time, the Knicks should try to move him at the deadline.

Reports have indicated that nobody is interested in acquiring Walker, so he might have to be considered an add-on just to relieve his contractual duties for the future. The front office struck out big time in this acquisition, and Evan Fournier also seems to be a liability.

With animosity growing, the Knicks are going to have to make a few big decisions at the deadline in a few weeks, hopefully pairing Julius Randle with a top player.

Yankees reliever has no hard feelings with new Mets’ manager Buck Showalter after 2016 playoff game

After weeks of speculation, the New York Mets finally decided on their new skipper for the 2022 season: it will be veteran Buck Showalter, who has been leading MLB teams since 1992 and was out of baseball’s dugouts since 2018.

Showalter’s last stint as a major league skipper was with the Baltimore Orioles, from 2012 to 2018. There, he managed one of the league’s best relievers of the mid-2010s, one who currently plays with the New York Yankees: Zack Britton.

In the 2016 American League Wild Card game between the Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, Showalter did not use Britton, MLB’s most dominant relief arm back then, in a close game that ended up going to extras. The Blue Jays won 5-2 in 11 innings, and Britton didn’t see the mound. The Mets know this, but are convinced he has learned from his mistake.

Britton has no problems with the new Mets’ skipper

Britton, in a conversation with The Athletic (link to NJ Advance Media here), said very good things about Showalter and wished him good luck with the Mets. And he told the story of what happened after that controversial game.

“We always had this spring training thing, which I thought was cool — off-site, get together in a movie theater, kind of show you the highlights of the previous season, just a bonding moment for the team,” Britton said. “During that meeting, he got up there and said, ‘Before we start, I just want to address the elephant in the room.’ He apologized to me, which I didn’t think he needed to do. I think there were some guys on the team that were frustrated by the move. He just said: ‘That’s my bad. I messed up.’ And it was done with.”

Britton approves the Mets’ hiring of Showalter and says he is the right man for the job for the crosstown rivals.

“He’s going to want more control than a typical manager. I know nothing about the Mets. But if you want an organizational change, he’s probably your guy. He’s going to change your whole philosophy, not just from the major-league side but also the minors. He wanted to know what was happening in Triple A and Double A in Baltimore. He’s going to have a new, whole, ‘This is how we play baseball,’ from top to bottom. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’m not sure there’s anyone better.”