New York Jets: False positive reveal clears a path to Sunday

New York Jets

After a health scare on Friday sent players and personnel home, the New York Jets have received clearance to play on Sunday against Arizona.

A Friday morning health scare forced the New York Jets to send their men in green home, but all signs now point to spending Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets announced in a team statement that all players, coaches, and personnel have all tested negative for COVID-19. These negatives come hours after ESPN’s Adam Schefter stated the Jets emptied their Florham Park headquarters after “a presumptive positive player test”. But the team is now on pace to welcome in the Arizona Cardinals to MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

“This evening, we received negative PCR COVID-19 test results for all players, coaches, and personnel,” the statement reads. “Following a presumptive positive COVID-19 test and out of an abundance of caution to ensure everyone’s health and safety, we sent all players and personnel home this morning. We also initiated all NFL mandated protocols including player isolation, subsequent testing, and contact tracing.”

“As we have thus far, we will continue to follow required health and safety protocols in the best interests of our coaches, players, staff, and community. We look forward to our game this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.”

The Jets previously dealt with false positives during training camp. Their proximity to the NFL’s New Jersey-based BioReference testing lab helped exepditate the process that’s allowing them to play on Sunday.

As the NFL continues to navigate its way through the ongoing health crisis, two games originally scheduled for Sunday have been shifted. The New England Patriots saw one of their games moved for the second straight week, as they’ll take on the Denver Broncos on Monday late afternoon (5 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans have had no new positive tests for consecutive days after having 23 positive tests since September 24. Their matchup with the Buffalo Bills has been moved to national television status on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, CBS) and their Nashville facility could reopen this weekend.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NASCAR posts remainder of 2020 national series schedule

NASCAR revealed the remainder of their 2020 national series slate on Thursday, covering the entirety of their postseason slate.

Defying Jim Mora, NASCAR is talking about playoffs.

The auto racing body unveiled the remainder of their 2020 schedule for each of their national series, which includes the playoff slates for each. Playoffs in the premier Cup Series will begin on September 6 at Darington Raceway’s Southern 500.

While the ongoing national developments have necessitated some changes in other portions of the schedule, the Cup playoff slate remains fully in-tact. Phoenix Raceway is still set to host its first season finale on November 8, taking over the championship weekend tradition from Homestead-Miami Speedway after 17 seasons. Bristol Motor Speedway will host its first playoff race in a September 19 night event as the final stage of the first round.

Remaining schedules for the lower-tier series were also released. The NASCAR Xfinity Series will host one last doubleheader on September 11-12 at Richmond Raceway, one week before their regular-season finale at Bristol. Xfinity drivers will also take to Talladega Superspeedway for the second part of their own first round on October 3.

The most shuffling comes on the Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series slate, as they earn playoff races at Kansas (October 16) and Texas (October 25). Richmond will play host to the regular season finale on August 18 while the Truck playoffs open at Bristol on September 17.

“The one fortunate part of this latter part of the season and the playoffs is we were able to keep the original tracks and dates intact when it came to the Cup Series, but definitely they have had to be flexible with integrating some of the other series into those events so that they had a good championship schedule as well,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition in a statement on NASCAR.com. “It has been again, just like everything else, just a lot of great teamwork between the teams, NASCAR, and the venues.”

The ARCA Menards Series also posted its remaining races, including a finale at Phoenix preceding the Xfinity Series championship on November 7.

All three major national series will be in action this weekend, as their regular seasons enter their final stages. The Cup Series will have a doubleheader at Michigan International Seedway beginning on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN) while the Xfinity Series races on the Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin earlier that afternoon (12 p.m. ET, NBCSN). The Trucks will race in a Friday night event at Michigan on Friday night (6 p.m. ET, FS1).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

NASCAR eschews practice and qualifying for the rest of the 2020 season

Random draws will continue to determine the starting lineups of 2020 NASCAR races, though the process could change for the playoffs.

NASCAR drivers will continue to play the lottery.

The racing series announced on Tuesday that there will be no practice or qualifying for the remaining events of their trio of national circuits. Random draws will continue to determine starting position as NASCAR continues to navigate its way through the current health crisis.

Through this system, NASCAR has been able to trim race weekends into a single day at the track for many of its drivers.

“Following discussions with our race teams and the broader industry, NASCAR will continue to conduct its race weekends without practice and qualifying for the remainder of the 2020 season in all three national series,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said in a statement. “The current format has worked well in addressing several challenges during our return to racing. Most importantly, we have seen competitive racing week-to-week.”

To Miller’s point, the NASCAR Cup Series has seen seven different winners over the last 14 races since its return from the coronavirus-induced pause. Rookie Cole Custer won the first race of his career at Kentucky Speedway’s Quaker State 400 earlier this month, while Austin Dillon ended an 88-race winless drought this past weekend at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Traditional qualifying was held for the premiere Cup Series hours before it ran the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway back in May. Field inversion has been common, particularly when tracks have hosted multiple events in close proximity (i.e. the second half of the Cup Series’ weekend doubleheader at Pocono Raceway).

Random draws, however, have been the primary way to determine the starting grid in the Cup, Xfinity, and Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series. Positions are awarded based on a vehicle’s spot in the owners’ points. The first 12, for example, are assigned one of those corresponding slots in the lineup, while the next dozen get those.

NASCAR had hinted earlier in the week that the process could undergo a small tweak for the playoffs, in which each of the qualifying drivers would get those top spots. The Cup Series welcomes 16 drivers into its postseason, while Xfinity and Trucks welcome 12 and 10 respectively.

“NASCAR will adjust the starting lineup draw procedure for the Playoff races, and will announce the new process at a later date,” Miller’s statement concludes.

Many drivers have praised the lack of practice, often going from their motorhome to their car on race day.

“I thought it was really cool. I think it had zero percent effect on the race winner today,” said Chase Elliott said after a fourth-place finish at the first race back at Darlington Raceway in May. “Hopefully, we can kind of make this a trend and get back to our roots. It reminded me a lot of short track racing, which I think is a lot of fun.”

“I would much rather not practice, personally,” veteran driver and Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick said after winning the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta in June. “(But) you can definitely have both sides to that equation. I think for me, the benefit is having an experienced team, and being able to get things close is something that our team is really good at.”

The circuit returns to action with all three national series running at Kansas Speedway. Things get rolling with the Super Starter Batteries 400 on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN). The Truck Series run a pair of 200-mile races on consecutive days, beginning on Friday night (7 p.m. ET, FS1).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets sign trio of 2020 draft picks (Report)

DL/LB Jabari Zuniga, QB James Morgan, and P Braden Mann are the latest New York Jets draft picks to officially sign their rookie deals.

The New York Jets revealed that two more draft picks signed with the team on Monday evening. New York confirmed that they signed defender Jabari Zuniga and quarterback James Morgan, while Manish Mehta of the New York has stated that the team has also officially added punter Braden Mann.

Mehta also had the financial terms for each first-year. Each is worth four seasons, with Zuniga earning $4.73 million, Morgan getting $4 million, and Mann rounding it off with $3.47 million.

Zuniga was the latter of the Jets’ pair of third-round picks, chosen 79th overall out of Florida. Injuries limited Zuniga to five games in his senior season, but he nonetheless managed 33 sacks over four seasons in Gainesville. Capable of playing on both the line and at linebacker, Zuniga was placed on the Chuck Bednarik Award watchlist (awarded to the nation’s top defensive lineman) during a junior campaign that saw him earn 45 tackles, including 11 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks.

Morgan is set to partake in the Jets’ competition for the backup quarterback job behind Sam Darnold. He was chosen in the fourth round (125th overall) out of Florida International. Despite spending only two seasons with the Golden Panthers, having transferred there from Bowling Green, Morgan ranks second in FIU history in passing yardage (5,312) and touchdowns (40).

Mann was the Jets’ final pick of the April proceedings, having his name called with the 191st overall pick. The Texas A&M product was one of the most prolific punters in college football history, earning unanimous All-American honors and the Ray Guy Award (bestowed to the nation’s top punter) after his junior season. His 51.0 average is the best in NCAA history.

With these signings, first-round pick Mekhi Becton and third-rounder Ashtyn Davis are the only Jets selections who have yet to sign.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

NFL set to remove two games from the preseason schedule (Report)

As the NFL continues to prepare for an uncertain 2020, the already-maligned preseason slate has seen two weeks erased from its ledger.

Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the National Football League is ready to do away with half of its preseason slate as it prepares to potentially navigate a season through the COVID-19 pandemic. The PFT report says that the first and final weeks of summer’s exhibition summer quartet are on the chopping block.

The league is set to make a formal announcement regarding the decision on Thursday, one week after the cancellation of the preseason-opening Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between Dallas and Pittsburgh in Canton, Ohio.

Trimming the preseason has long been discussed and appeared to be a certainty when the new collective bargaining agreement left open the possibility of a 17-game regular-season slate in 2021. The league’s squads have played four preseason games ever since 1978

If Weeks 1 and 4 are eliminated from the preseason picture, the annual meeting between the local New York Jets and New York Giants would be eliminated, having been scheduled for the opening week for the second consecutive season. Starters rarely play past the first quarter in the opener, and often sit out the finale entirely. The Jets and Giants have respectively played interconference rivals from Philadelphia and New England in the final week of summer games since the turn of the century. It’s possible these games could be rescheduled to cut down on travel. If the cancellations are kept, the Jets would have a visit to Detroit and an East Rutherford tilt with Pittsburgh (the former being nationally televised on ESPN). The Giants have a road game against Tennessee and a visit from Green Bay left on their docket.

Many teams are planning to open training camp on July 28 with the first games scheduled for the week of August 20-24.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

Report: New York Jets have had trade discussions about Marcus Maye

New York Jets, Marcus Maye

The New York Jets could in a bit of a bind when it comes to their top free safety, who is set to be a free agent in 2021.

Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the New York Jets have engaged in trade talks centered around starting free safety Marcus Maye.

Maye has been a solid contributor to the Jets since joining the team a second-round draft pick (39th overall) in 2017. The Florida alum has earned 178 tackles, 11 pass breakups, and four interceptions over the last three seasons. He has formed a strong relationship with fellow starting safety and SEC alum Jamal Adams, with the two forming a formidable duo in the secondary.

But with both defenders set to enter the final year of their rookie contracts and a big payday potentially coming Adams’ way, it appears that the Jets will at least try to get something for Maye before he potentially leaves for nothing in free agency. Mehta’s report said that both head coach Adam Gase and general manager Joe Douglas engaged in trade talks involving Maye, but no such deals were made. Maye would recover from an injury-riddled 2018 campaign to pick up 65 tackles, seven breakups, and an interception last year.

Adding to the case in trading for Maye is the fact the Jets bolstered their secondary depth this offseason. During the third round of last month’s draft, New York chose versatile safety Ashtyn Davis from Cal-Berkeley (68th overall). Davis earned all-Pac-12 honors over his last two seasons with the Golden Bears and also doubled as the team’s returner. The Jets also added cornerbacks in both the draft (fifth-rounder Bryce Hall) and free agency (Pierre Desir, Brian Poole).

Adams’ fifth-year option would set the Jets back $9.8 million if they choose to pick it up in 2021. Preliminary discussions have been held about a long-term extension or the franchise tag could be used (at the risk of an Adams holdout).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NFL Draft: New York Jets select Virginia CB Bryce Hall

Entering the second half of their Saturday selections, the New York Jets made Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall their fourth pick of the day.

With their fourth of six late selections, the New York Jets added cornerback Bryce Hall out of Virginia with the 158th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Hall missed most of his senior season in Charlottesville after undergoing ankle surgery. He nonetheless was able to make a name for himself during his junior year, tallying 21 pass breakups, good for best in the nation and the 13th-best single-season mark in NCAA history. Overall, Hall tallied 38 pass breakups to accompany 154 tackles and five interceptions during his time as a Cavalier.

The cornerback becomes the Jets’ first Virginia alum taken in the draft since 2013’s fifth-round tackle Oday Aboushi.

Barring any trades, the Jets have two more picks to work with on Saturday. They next pick in the 191st slot before potentially ending the afternoon at No. 211 with a pick acquired from Kansas City.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NFL Draft: New York Jets select Cal S Ashtyn Davis with 68th overall pick

New York Jets, Ashtyn Davis

With their pick obtained from the Leonard Williams trade, the New York Jets selected Cal-Berkeley safety Ashtyn Davis.

With the 68th overall selection of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Jets took Cal-Berkeley safety Ashtyn Davis. The Jets earned this pick through a trade with their MetLife Stadium co-tenants, the New York Giants.

Davis totaled 166 tackles and seven interceptions during his four years with the Golden Bears. He also worked as the Golden Bears’ kick returner for two seasons, finishing second in the Pac-12 in return yardage in each of those campaigns (2017, 2018). New York finished 22nd in kick return average last season after 2018 Pro Bowler Andre Roberts departed for Buffalo.

The Cal product is the first safety the Jets have taken in the NFL Draft since they went with current starting pair Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye over the first two rounds of 2017. Davis’ predecessor in terms of Golden Bears chosen by the Jets is another 2017 pick, fourth-round receiver Chad Hansen.

The Jets also hold the 79th and 101st selections to cap off their Friday night proceedings, barring any trades.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NFL Draft: New York Jets select Baylor WR Denzel Mims with No. 59 pick

New York Jets, Denzel Mims

With their first Friday night selection, the New York Jets took Baylor receiver Denzel Mimis with a pick obtained from Seattle.

The New York Jets used the 59th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft to take Baylor receiver Denzel Mims.

Mims departs Waco ranked third in touchdown receptions (28), fifth in overall receptions (186), and sixth in yardage (2,925). He set career-bests in his senior season with 66 receptions and 12 touchdowns, while also putting up 1,020 receiving yards. His college career was capped off with seven touchdowns over his final six games, including one last score in Baylor’s Sugar Bowl tilt with Georgia.

The Jets were in desperate need of receiving help after the departure of Robby Anderson to Carolina. Mims has the playmaking ability the Jets could desperately use to make Sam Darnold more comfortable. He appeared in the Big 12’s top ten in average receptions twice, including a career-best 17.8 during his sophomore season (seventh in the conference).

Mims is the first Baylor Bear drafted by the Jets since they took quarterback Bryce Petty in 2015’s fourth round.

The Jets will next choose in the 68th slot, in a pick obtained from the New York Giants in a fall trade.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Brooklyn Nets: Tyronn Lue Expresses Interest in Coaching the Nets

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

It feels like it’s only a matter of time before the Brooklyn Nets bring in Tyronn Lue for an official interview.  Lue, currently an assistant coach for Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers, has been in high demand ever since he won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016. Lue turned down a 3 year, $18M deal to coach Lebron and the Lakers in May last year. Lue has now expressed interest in coaching the Brooklyn Nets and with the team letting Kenny Atkinson go shortly before the season was suspended, it seems as though Lue will be a top candidate for yet another lucrative coaching opportunity.

Multiple Former Nets Endorse Lue as next Brooklyn Head Coach

Lue has received ringing endorsements from former Nets, Richard Jefferson, and Paul Pierce. Jefferson, a member of the Cavaliers championship team Lue coached in 2016, spoke about why he thinks Lue would be a great fit for Brooklyn: “There are so many great young coaches out there who deserve an opportunity. T-Lue, to me, is the No. 1 young coach. He can coach. He can do all that stuff. He has a proven track record. So do I think T-Lue can coach this team? Do I think he can be successful? Yes.” (quote from New York Daily News article by Stefan Bondy)

Jefferson played 17 seasons in the NBA before retiring, his most efficient years being for the Nets, and has become an excellent analyst for Nets games on the YES network pairing wonderfully with Ian Eagle and Sarah Kustok. Jefferson has mentioned in the past he would not be open to coaching currently.

Paul Pierce, who played for Brooklyn in the 2013-2014 season, also gave Lue a glowing recommendation for the position on ESPN’s “The Jump” Tuesday, saying “I think he would be a great fit. Are they going to be a championship-caliber team if you put Ty Lue in there and add (Kevin Durant) with Kyrie Irving? Yes. Can they do it? We have yet to see. Or it has yet to happen. But a great fit all across the board, I believe.”

It’s interesting to see former players giving Lue the nod to be the next Brooklyn HC. Many fans (myself included) believe Lue’s success in Cleveland was attributed to the stellar play of Lebron James and Kyrie Irving, more so than it was his coaching savvy. One can make the argument when you’re the coach of a Top 3 player of all time, success should come often and easily.

Nevertheless, Lue has had success with Kyrie Irving in the past. He will have to mesh well with Durant as well, which should be an easy task given Durant’s style of play and reputation as a “coach-able” player. If Lue becomes the Nets HC, he will have his work cut out for him in an Eastern Conference that has drastically improved in the last several years.

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