New York Giants: Andrew Thomas has second surgery on ankle

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The best offensive lineman for the New York Giants right now is Andrew Thomas, but the left tackle hasn’t been free from injuries. Thomas played in 13 games during 2021, and while he didn’t miss as many as some other members of the Giants roster, his absence was definitely felt when he wasn’t on the field.

A recurring problem for Thomas has been his ankle, and it looks like one surgery wasn’t enough to fix that. After having surgery on the same ankle following his rookie season, Thomas had another one in January according to Dan Duggan.

The hope behind this one seems to be that it will be a more permanent fix.

We shouldn’t have to worry about Thomas missing the start of next season, as the prediction is that he’ll be back to full speed for team workouts.

He will, of course, have a large role when the Giants eventually take to the field again in 2022. Right now, he looks like the only member of the offensive line that’s a lock to survive the incoming rebuild.

The next season is likely a transition phase for the Giants. New players will show up on the offensive line, but the project won’t be complete until further down the line. During a time like this, it helps to have an anchor player that is already a proven success.

It looks like Thomas could be that player on the offensive line, but he’ll have to be healthy to do it. Here’s to hoping that this surgery is a success and that we see an injury free season from Thomas in 2022.

UFC closing in on Bobby Green – Islam Makhachev headliner

Last weekend at UFC 271, Bobby Green (29-12-1) put on a helluva performance against Nasrat Haqparast. Green put on a boxing clinic as he boxed in Haqparast’s face from the opening bell to the final bell on his way to winning a very lopsided decision win.

After the fight, many were saying that the UFC needed to give him a main event opportunity. In fact, I was going to write an article that was due to come out tomorrow that would talk about Green being in a main event. Well, it looks like his headlining opportunity is going to come sooner than later.

Earlier tonight, Ariel Helwani reported that Beneil Dariush had injured his ankle and was out of the UFC Vegas 49 main event. The promotion called up Bobby Green to see if he would be interested in taking on Islam Makhachev (21-1). Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, both Green and Makhachev have agreed to the new UFC Vegas 49 main event.

UFC Vegas 49

Okamoto said that the deal isn’t 100% finalized yet and it would likely have to take place at a catch weight considering the fact that Green just fought a few days ago at 155 pounds. This is a massive opportunity for Bobby Green but he’s going to be a massive underdog in next week’s headliner.

That said, if Green could pull off the unthinkable at UFC Vegas 49, suddenly he’s amongst the top ranked lightweights in the promotion. Factor that in with his personality and things just became incredibly intriguing for Bobby Green. Again, it’s going to be a very steep hill to climb next weekend.

Many believe that Islam Makhachev will be the UFC lightweight champion by the end of the year. Makhachev is Khabib Nurmagomedov’s protege and many believe he is the second coming of the former lightweight king. For Makhachev, this matchup with Green is going to be a dangerous one.

Bobby Green’s hands are incredible and Islam cannot become too proud next weekend. The game plan at UFC Vegas 49 is going to be clear and that will be to take down and smash. I can’t wait for this one.

Yankees/MLB News: New owners’ offer won’t help end the CBA deadlock

manfred, mlb, baseball

For the New York Yankees and other MLB teams, the owner’s newest offer won’t draw the end of the CBA impasse any closer. In fact, it is likely to assure a late start to spring training and the start of the 2022 baseball season. With the pitchers and catchers scheduled to show up today, the spring training is now officially delayed.

In the MLB’s latest offer made over the weekend, the owners asked for the ability to eliminate hundreds of minor league playing jobs in its latest labor offer to the players association. The MLBPA will have no part of that request, dragging on the negotiations that have not shown any progress and assuring a late start of the season.

The number of minor league players a team can have at any time is 180. This is called the Domestic Reserve List. The owners have allowed that to remain at current levels, but Manfred’s office, under the latest request, will be able to lower that figure in future years to as little as 150 players in the future, adjusting it up and down at a whim. This is a request that the players will soundly reject, as reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

In recent years the owners have proposed controlling the size of the Domestic Reserve, which was rejected multiple times. The players have not specifically responded to the request, but sources report that the players intend to reject it and any future proposals that could cut minor league jobs.

Two new MLB rules will make a complex situation even more complicated in other recent developments. Those two rules are the Universal DH for the season 2022 and beyond. The other is the loss of removal of draft pick compensation. With many National League teams now looking for a DH to replace a pitcher that used to have to pitch, it will likely be a boon to free agents, with more teams interested in acquiring them.

Training camps will remain shuttered Wednesday when pitchers and catchers had been scheduled to start workouts for a 2022 season. Unless a miracle happens in the negotiations in the next few days, the start of the 2022 season will be delayed.

Giants News, 2/16: Mike Kafka speaks highly of Daniel Jones, Big Blue signs Buffalo practice squad receiver

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are preparing for wholesale changes on the offensive side of the ball, curated through the NFL draft and free agency.

Quarterback Daniel Jones is at the helm of schematic changes, with new head coach Brian Daboll already forging a relationship and finding his primary strengths to build around.

Jones is an athletic quarterback who is capable of running well in a straight line. He’s not as agile or shifty as Josh Allen up in Buffalo, but his straight-line speed is something to be concerned about if you are a defensive coordinator. Utilizing the zone-read option will likely be a focal point for the Giants next season, but giving Jones more time in the pocket and advanced route concepts are expected given the previous simplicity of Jason Garrett’s scheme.

New offensive coordinator Mike Kafka is coming from a potent Kansas City Chiefs offensive unit led by Patrick Mahomes. Operating under a dynamic West Coast style, Mahomes is given the freedom to move through multiple progressions with solid OL play, but also going off script and making something out of nothing. Jones has been robotic ever since Pat Shurmur departed in 2019, staring down his first reads and failing to move through his progressions appropriately.

Via Bob Papa of Giants.com, Kafka claimed that Jones is “athletic and can make every throw,” which has been the consensus from management since taking over. The former Kansas City assistant also noted that “it’s got to be an 11-man operation.”

While Jones is the catalyst behind making the offense work, they need the OL to play at an average level at least and the receivers to step up and make plays. Both Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay failed to get in the end-zone last season. This embarrassing mark played a significant part in the firing of Garrett midseason and ultimately letting Joe Judge go after the year’s completion.

The Giants are already making quiet moves to bolster their offense, signing Austin Proehl on Tuesday to a reserve/futures deal. At 26 years old, Proehl was previously a seventh-round pick back in 2018 by the Buffalo Bills. It is always a good idea to bring over familiar faces who can help fuel the transition more efficiently. While Proehl likely won’t be an impact plan moving forward, he can help establish the ground rules under Daboll and Schoen with the Giants.

Bellator books Lyoto Machida – Fabien Edwards

Bellator MMA is returning to London on May 13th and they are putting together a sensational card. Of course, the main event features Michael “Venom” Page challenging Yaroslav Amosov for the welterweight championship.

Today, we learned that there is another big time fight that’s been added to Bellator London. The promotion’s European Twitter page, tweeted out that former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (26-11) will be making his first appearance of 2022 against Fabien Edwards (9-2).

This is going to be a huge opportunity for Fabien Edwards. Edward, a native on England and brother to top UFC contender Leon Edwards, is looking to snap his current two-fight losing streak.

The last time we saw Edwards was last May when he took on Austin Vanderford at Bellator 259. Edwards lost that fight by decision and that was on the heels of a split decision loss that came against Costello van Steenis.

These were the first two losses of Edwards career. However, he can erase the bad taste out of his mouth in a hurry at Bellator London. A win over Lyoto Machida would be massive and would get him right back on track.

Bellator’s Return of The Dragon

As mentioned, this will be the first Bellator fight of 2022 for Lyoto Machida. The last time we saw him was back in April of 2021 when he competed in the promotion’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix against Ryan Bader.

Machida lost a decision which was his third consecutive loss. That said, it’s worth noting how competitive Machida has been during his three straight losses. He lost to Phil Davis and Gegard Mousasi for the Bellator middleweight title, both by split decision.

The soon to be 44 year old has remained competitive with some of the best that Bellator has to offer. Now, he’s getting a reset fight against a top prospect in Fabien Edwards. This could truly make or break Machida. A fourth consecutive loss to Edwards might spell the official end of The Machida Era.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver questions NYC vaccine mandate that keeps Kyrie Irving out of home games

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver questioned New York City’s controversial vaccine mandate that prevents Brooklyn Nets‘ star Kyrie Irving from playing home games.

Appearing on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday morning, Silver also speculated that the odd vaccination rule could soon be lifted.

“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players,” Silver said. “I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays, but the home player can’t. To me, that’s a reason they should take a look at that ordinance.”

Irving has been playing exclusively on the road since the Nets reinstated him last month. But on Wednesday night against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Irving will also be ineligible to play.

Silver is hopeful that newly-elected New York City mayor Eric Adams will look at the vaccination mandate after New York governor Kathy Hochul lifted the statewide indoor business mask-or-vaccine requirement, although it will remain optional for businesses, local governments and counties to enforce. Silver saw and felt the vibe changed in recent days with the NBA headquarters based in New York as “more people are out and about.”

“So while, again, my personal view is people should get vaccinated and boosted, I can imagine a scenario where Brooklyn, as part of New York City, with a new mayor now who wasn’t in place, Eric Adams, when that original ordinance was put into place, I could see him deciding to change along the way and say it’s no longer necessary to have a mandatory vaccination requirement, as I said, particularly one that only affects home players,” Silver said.

Recently, Washington D.C. has also lifted its vaccine mandate on indoor events leaving New York and Toronto as the only NBA markets preventing unvaccinated players from playing in their arenas.

Silver’s remarks came on the heels of Irving expressing hopes that New York’s vaccine mandate would be overturned. 

“There’s no guilt that I feel,” Irving told reporters in Miami last Saturday. “I’m the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there. If I were anywhere else in another city, then it probably wouldn’t be the same circumstances. But because I’m there, we have Eric Adams; we have the New York mandate; we have things going on that are real-life circumstances that are not just affecting me, bro. So you ask me these questions, I don’t feel guilt.

“I’m just living my life as best I can, just like everybody else that missed these last two years. I didn’t have a plan in place while all this was going on, didn’t know. The NBA and the NBPA made it very clear that there would be things that I would be able to do to work around this. And that’s off the table. So you tell me if I’m just alone out here or do I have support from everybody else that’s dealing with the same thing?”

The Nets (30-27) are currently in the play-in scenario. They are hopeful they can reverse their fortunes once Irving is allowed to play at home and Kevin Durant returns from injury after the All-Star break. They also await the debut of their newly acquired star Ben Simmons from the James Harden trade with Philadelphia.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Francis Ngannou and UFC met before heavyweight champion departed for Cameroon

Francis Ngannou

Last month at UFC 270, the heavyweight championship was on the line. Francis Ngannou (17-3) was defending his title against the interim champion Ciryl Gane (10-1). While there were so many storylines surrounding the fight, one that stood out was Ngannou’s contract situation. 

The UFC’s heavyweight champion was fighting on the last fight of his current contract. Now, with the promotion’s champion’s clause, Ngannou was obligated to stay with the UFC through the end of 2022 regardless should he have won the fight.

Ngannou also was fighting on a torn MCL and damaged ACL which we now know will require surgery repair. With all of these outside distractions going on, Ngannou still made the walk at UFC 270 to defend his title.

Now, he didn’t look the same in the fight. You could tell his injury had him compromised. That said, he was able to turn to his wrestling and he was able to defeated the previously unbeaten Ciryl Gane.

After retaining his UFC title, all the attention turned to his contract situation. There had been some verbal back-and-forth between the champ’s camp and the UFC. However, we now know that there might be a little light at the end of the tunnel.

UFC and Ngannou Met

Francis Ngannou is currently enjoying his victory tour and is visiting his homeland of Cameroon. However, we learned from Dana White at the UFC 271 pre-fight press conference that the promotion and Ngannou met for dinner just before he departed.

While White didn’t go into details, the conversation was said to have been positive. The fact that both sides sat down and broke bread is a huge step in the right direction especially with the oddness of the way things ended at UFC 270. 

Obviously, there’s still a long ways to go, but there’s plenty of time. When Ngannou returns, he will be getting surgery on his knee. With that surgery, he likely won’t fight until the end of the year or in early 2023.

I almost can guarantee the UFC will make an interim title while he’s out. Perhaps one with Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic which would setup a massive fight for Ngannou upon his return to the octagon.

One thing that could also help Ngannou is Israel Adesanya. Adesanya just resigned with the UFC and signed a massive extension. He made a point to say that he wants his new contract to help other fighters especially for his close friend, Francis Ngannou.

All in all, I think a deal between the two sides will get done. I think you’ll see more positive momentum with the UFC upon Ngannou’s return, but negotiations can still take a while and like I said, with Ngannou’s injury, there’s no rush.

Looking ahead to Israel Adesanya – Jared Cannonier after UFC 271

This past Saturday at UFC 271, we saw two massive matchups in the middleweight division. In the main event of the evening, the middleweight title was on the line as Israel Adesanya (22-1) defended against Robert Whittaker (23-6).

On the main card of UFC 271, we also saw a title elimination bout between Jared Cannonier (15-5) and Derek Brunson (23-8). This fight ended up having so many exciting turns that even people who were excited for this fight didn’t foresee happening.

In the first round, Brunson dropped Cannonier and used his wrestling to control him. Near the end of the first round, Brunson locked in a deep rear naked choke. However, the round ended and we moved to the second.

Once in the second, it was all Cannonier. Brunson looked tired and defeated that he didn’t win in the first. Cannonier capitalized and hurt Brunson badly. A flurry of brutal shots led him to the TKO win at UFC 271. 

In the main event, Adesanya and Whittaker went to battle again. After their lopsided first fight, this one was much closer. However, it didn’t start that way. Adesanya controlled the first round and even dropped Whittaker.

However, Whittaker came back strong and made rounds 2-5 extremely competitive. Overall, I think Adesanya was the correct winner. However, I could even see an argument for giving Whittaker three rounds. Nevertheless, Adesanya got the decision at UFC 271 and retained his title. 

Previewing UFC title fight

Dana White made it clear after the fight that Jared Cannonier would get the next shot. Adesanya agreed and said he hopes the UFC could put it together for their June PPV. Early word is that looks like the target for this matchup.

Adesanya’s last two title defenses have been rematches. However, he’s getting new blood with this UFC defense against Cannonier. Adesanya vocalized that he wanted to fight Cannonier back in 2020, but Cannonier was derailed by Whittaker.

Now, Cannonier has won two straight to earn himself a shot. Cannonier has some serious power and he definitely poses some threats to the champion. However, Stylebender should be the big favorite heading into their title fight.

In my early analysis, I’m having a hard time seeing Cannonier having success due to his struggles to get inside. I think Adesanya is going to really work the leg kicks in this one and he’s going to be hard to catch.

Whenever these two meetup at the June UFC PPV, I’m expecting Adesanya to retain his title. I’m not going to rule out anyone beating Adesanya at 185, but right now, it’s hard to see anyone doing it if Robert Whittaker can’t.

UFC working on booking Brian Ortega – Yair Rodriguez

Brian Ortega, UFC

The UFC is currently working towards a banger of a matchup in the featherweight division. Ariel Helwani reported yesterday afternoon that the promotion was working towards booking a matchup between Brian “T-City” Ortega (15-2, 1 NC) and Yair Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC).

Word is that the UFC is working towards booking this fight for the spring. For Rodriguez, this will give him a chance to get right back in there with one of the very best guys in the featherweight division.

Back in 2019, Rodriguez defeated Jeremy Stephens by decision. This win came on the heels of a knockout win over Chan Sung Jung. It looked like Rodriguez was right in the title picture. However, injuries and outside issues kept him out of the UFC for over two years.

He returned back in November when he took on former UFC champion Max Holloway. I was expecting Holloway to runaway with the fight. However, Rodriguez put on one of the best performances of his career.

Yes, Rodriguez ultimately came up short, but he came up short against one of the best of all time. Getting him right back in there against Ortega will keep him active amongst the best at 145.

UFC bounce back opportunity

This potential matchup isn’t just a bounce back opportunity for Rodriguez, but it’s also one for T-City. The last time we saw Ortega was back at UFC 266 in September when he took on Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title.

It was Ortega’s second crack at the featherweight strap. Ortega had his moments including almost locking up Volkanovski in two fight ending submissions in the third round. However, Volkanovski powered through and walked to a lopsided decision victory.

Ortega has had two title fights against the two best featherweights in the UFC. Both times, he’s been on the losing side of a lopsided fight. He’s proven how good he is, but he’s struggled against the very best.

This fight against Rodriguez will once again give Ortega the opportunity to prove he’s third in the world. If he can win, he’s perhaps only one more win away from his third crack at the featherweight championship.

K’Andre Miller plays the unexpected hero in the Rangers’ return

Miller had never partaken in an NHL shootout before putting in the winner for the Rangers in Tuesday’s win over Boston.

Miller time had a whole new meaning on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Those that missed the New York Rangers over the last two weeks had their fill and then some on Tuesday night, when the Blueshirts needed three periods, five minutes of overtime, and nine rounds of a shootout to earn a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. It was the Rangers’ first contest since Feb. 1 and their first of the post-All-Star slate.

After a comeback effort that saw New York (31-13-4) tie the game in the third period through Filip Chytil’s fifth goal of the season (earned in his first appearance since Jan. 22 thanks to a lower-body injury), goaltenders Igor Shesterkin and Jeremy Swayman went toe-to-toe from there on out, the battle only paused when the former was forced to leave the game in the final minute of the extra period by the game’s concussion spotter. Aided by a Rangers timeout, Shesterkin returned in time to stop seven of nine Boston shootout attempts, including each of his final six.

Tuesday’s decider saw each team roll out its usual shooting suspects to earn the important extra point: Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin each scored for the Rangers while Boston (27-16-4) scored on its first and third attempts via Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle (who also put in the Bruins’ lone regulation goal in the first period). Subsequent participants denied by Shesterkin and Swayman included David Pastrnak, Adam Fox, Taylor Hall, and Chris Kreider.

The shootout proceedings were nothing near Marek Malik-levels of desperation, but the Rangers turned to another defenseman (following bottom-six forward reps Chytil and Dryden Hunt in ultimately futile showings) for their ninth attempt. Miller had not appeared in a single NHL shootout before has was called upon on Tuesday.

What ensued was a New York walk-off in the bottom of the ninth, even though the Mets and Yankees continue to work through a labor hiatus. A swift pace, savvy backhand, and accurate shot from the Blueshirts’ young blueliner beat Swayman and ignited a Garden party. It marks the Rangers’ third win a row, all coming at MSG as the end of a five-game homestand arrives on Thursday against Detroit (7 p.m. ET, MSG).

After the game, Miller acknowledged that those gathered at MSG weren’t the only ones surprised to see him on the ice in the final extra sessions. The 22-year-old mentioned that the enlistment was anything but voluntary.

“Coach (Gerard Gallant) kind of turned to me when their guy was up, and I was like, ‘Really? Like, you want me to go?’ Am I hearing this right?” Miller said in the aftermath, per Mollie Walker of the New York Post. “But no, it was a fun opportunity, and I’m glad I made the most of it.”

Two of the three wins in the Rangers’ latest winning streak have now been earned through a Miller game-winner: his goal in the final minute of a Jan. 30 visit from Seattle was previously the vital tally of a 3-2 triumph.

Though Miller got off to a slow start to open the 2021-22 season, Gallant spoke highly of his young defenseman’s blooming confidence as the latter stages of the regular season loom. Thus, turning to him in a vital shootout against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender at that stage was, in the head coach’s mind, a no-brainer.

“From (November on, he’s been really confident. Like any other young defenseman, they play really well, make some real good plays, and then they make some bad plays, a couple defensive-zone plays. That’s every player in the NHL,” Gallant explained. “But he’s confident, he feels good about his game and scoring the shootout winner is pretty good for him tonight.”

The Rangers’ 2021-22 season has been defined by a flair for the dramatics and success in the NHL’s polarizing shootout proceedings have only added to that trend. New York improved to 4-1 in shootouts this season (Shesterkin now stands at 3-0), now armed with a win tally that’s best in the Eastern Conference and tied with Minnesota and Vegas for the most in the league.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags