Category Archives: Sports

New York Jets DT Quinnen Williams’ breakout season ends with injury

New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who has established himself as one of the NFL’s top young linemen, is done for the season with a concussion and a neck injury.

Williams, 23, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after clearing the league’s concussion protocol.

The concussion happened late in the third quarter of last Sunday’s stunning upset of the Los Angeles Rams, which likely cost the Jets the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Williams, caught on camera as he walked to the locker room for an evaluation, was seen vomiting on the sideline. Williams, drafted third overall in 2019, was one of the few bright spots this campaign for the Jets (1-13).

After a lackluster rookie year, he became a disruptive presence on the defensive line. He leads the team in sacks (seven) and quarterback hits (14) and ranks among the league leaders in the major run-stopping metrics, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

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“On Sunday, you saw what kind of impact he had — a ton of TFLs [tackles for loss], was in their backfield and created pressure,” Gase stated.

Gase said Williams “kind of disappeared” in some games, “but it didn’t happen a lot this year.

Last year, I felt like there would be a couple of games in a row where you didn’t really feel him. But this year, I felt like the high majority of the game you felt him. If you were on the other team, you felt him whether you were playing quarterback or in the running game.”

Without Williams, the Jets’ run defense will be vulnerable Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns (10-4), whose third-ranked rushing attack is led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The Jets also placed inside linebacker Harvey Langi (neck) on IR. Between injuries, in-season trades and one opt-out, the Jets are down seven defensive starters from the unit that was projected at the start of training camp.

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San Francisco 49ers signing Josh Rosen to back up C.J. Beathard

Whether or not he wanted to make a modification at quarterback, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has no choice but to turn to third-stringer C.J. Beathard for Saturday’s game versus the Arizona Cardinals.

That’s because Beathard is the only healthy quarterback on the active roster. Desperate for a quarterback to back him up, the 49ers are signing Josh Rosen off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

Beathard’s return to the starting lineup comes almost a year to the day after his brother Clayton was stabbed to death outside a bar in Nashville, Tennessee.

“To go through what he did last year and then to go right into quarantine and to come right to us with the season, I know it’s been a huge challenge for him,” Shanahan said. “And I’m excited he’s going to get an opportunity this week. I have got as much respect for C.J. as anyone I’ve ever been with as a person and as a player, and it’s going to be fun working with him this week.”

Shanahan stated Tuesday that quarterback Nick Mullens is dealing with a right elbow injury that could require Tommy John surgery and will cost him the final two games of the campaign. Team doctors are waiting for the swelling to go down in Mullens’ elbow before determining the severity of the injury and what surgery will be required.

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Complicating matters was Tuesday’s news that practice squad quarterback Josh Johnson has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, with a source telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he tested positive for the virus.

That means he can’t be activated in time for Saturday’s game.

And while the Niners opened the 21-day practice window for starter Jimmy Garoppolo to return from the high ankle sprain that landed him on injured reserve, it’s unlikely that Garoppolo will play in either of the final two matches.

“Right now, he’s safe to go out to practice, which we’re only having a walk-through today, but it will be fun for him to throw the ball around a little bit,” Shanahan said. “But we’re going to be very safe with him this week. We’ll see next week, but I’d be very surprised if that changes.”

Because of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols that require players to go through a six-day testing period before they can be activated, the Niners can’t sign a quarterback off the street, leaving them with just the option of signing a quarterback off another team’s practice squad.

Rosen was taken by the Cardinals with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft and traded to the Miami Dolphins in 2019 as Arizona selected Kyler Murray No. 1 overall.

The Dolphins released Rosen in September and he was later signed by the Bucs for their practice squad. Rosen has made 16 career starts and appeared in 20 regular-season games overall, throwing for 2,845 yards with 12 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while completing 54.8% of his pass attempts.

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Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier UFC 257 bout to be on Fight Island Jan. 23

The UFC is formally headed back to Fight Island for its first slate of events in 2021, and it includes the return of former two-weight champion Conor McGregor at UFC 257.

UFC president Dana White informed on Tuesday that McGregor’s nontitle lightweight fight versus Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23 will take place on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The pay-per-view-event will cap off a series of three events in seven days: UFC Fight Night events on Jan. 16 and Jan. 20, followed by UFC 257.

A previously announced featherweight fight between former champion Max Holloway (21-6) and Calvin Kattar (22-4) will headline the card on Jan. 16. According to White, a welterweight matchup featuring 2020 breakout star Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) and title contender Leon Edwards (18-3) will serve as the main event on Jan. 20.

Per sources, the UFC is also finalizing a new welterweight matchup between Michael Chiesa (16-4) and Neil Magny (24-7) for the Jan. 20 event. Chiesa or Magny would presumably serve as a potential backup option for the main event, should anything happen to that 170-pound fight.

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Mike Jackson (1-1) will also return to action on the Jan. 20 card in a 170-pound fight versus Dean Barry (3-1), who will be making his UFC debut, per sources. This will mark Jackson’s first fight since his June 2018 victory over former WWE star CM Punk at UFC 225 in Chicago.

This will mark the UFC’s third trip to Abu Dhabi since the promotion’s operations were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The UFC has held its events exclusively in either Yas Island or Las Vegas since mid-May.

Previously, events in Yas Island have taken place without fans inside Flash Forum; however, there has been discussion around moving events to Etihad Arena and including fans. Those details are not yet completed.

This will also mark the second year in a row that McGregor (22-4) headlines the UFC’s first pay-per-view event of the year. He headlined UFC 246 in January 2020, and knocked out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in just 40 seconds.

That would turn out to be McGregor’s only appearance of 2020. He has fought only twice since capturing the 155-pound title in 2016.

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Cam Akers’ high-ankle sprain will sideline him indefinitely for playoff-hopeful Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers suffered a high-ankle sprain in a 23-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday and will be sidelined indefinitely, according to Rams coach Sean McVay.

“He is a war daddy,” McVay stated Monday. “But he is going to be out for at least the next week or so.”

Akers suffered the injury early in the second quarter and went to the sideline with trainers but returned only minutes later with his left ankle heavily taped. He ended with 63 yards on 15 carries.

His absence will be felt Sunday when the Rams (9-5) play the Seattle Seahawks (10-4) at Lumen Field.

A victory would earn the Rams a playoff berth and would move them into first place in the NFC West with a game remaining in the regular season.

After playing a complementary role in a running back committee with Darrell Henderson Jr. and Malcolm Brown most of the campaign, Akers had recently distinguished himself as a feature back.

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In a Week 13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Akers rushed for 72 yards on 21 carries, and the following week, in a 24-3 win over the New England Patriots, he rushed for 171 yards on 29 carries.

McVay said the desire of Akers, a second-round draft pick from Florida State, to finish Sunday’s game reiterated his thoughts about the rookie’s status on the team.

“He gave us a chance,” McVay said. “You can see why we have so much confidence in what he’s going to be for the future.”

Henderson and Brown will take over in Akers’ absence.

“They’ll both get work — as far as the specifics, we’re not really sure,” McVay said. “We’re just getting into the initial parts of the game plan.” The Rams defeated the Seahawks 23-16 in Week 10.

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Howie Kendrick retires after 15 MLB seasons

Howie Kendrick announced his retirement Monday after 15 major league seasons.

In an Instagram post, Kendrick thanked each of the teams he played for in the majors, concluding with the Washington Nationals, the team he won a World Series title with in 2019.

“To the fans, without your support and love for the game, our stage and lights would not shine as brightly as they do. Know you will be missed as well. I will always love the game of baseball and will constantly reflect on the lifelong memories made. For now, it’s time to drop the mic and enter a new stage of my life,” he wrote.

In 2019, Kendrick was the MVP of the National League Championship Series and hit the go-ahead homer in Game 7 of the World Series to help the Nationals victory the franchise’s first title.

Kendrick, 37, hit .275 with two home runs and 14 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season for the Nationals. The team declined his $6.5 million mutual option for 2021 after the season, and he received a $2.25 million buyout from Washington.

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The veteran infielder went on the injured list with a left hamstring injury on Sept. 9 and was shut down for the season.

In four seasons with the Nats, Kendrick hit .316 with 30 home runs and 113 RBIs.

Overall, Kendrick was a career .294 hitter with 127 home runs and 724 RBIs. In addition to the Nationals, Kendrick played two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, nine seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and 39 games with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2017 season.

Kendrick, a Florida native, was initially drafted by the Angels with a 10th round pick in 2002. His steady production as the Angels’ regular second baseman for several seasons established him as a solidly underrated player. Kendrick’s later career saw him become a multi-position specialist and veteran bat for multiple teams.

Last season, Kendrick’s production slipped across the abbreviated 2020 season, but suffice it to say he’s securely a Nationals franchise legend for that home run above.

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Carson Wentz not interested in backup role, will want to leave Philadelphia Eagles if Jalen Hurts remains starting QB

Carson Wentz is not interested in being a backup quarterback and would want to move on from the Eagles if the current situation — with Jalen Hurts starting under center — continues in Philadelphia, sources connected to the team told ESPN.

Although the Eagles’ quarterback situation stays fluid with three games left this season, Wentz is not pleased with the way events have unfolded in the organization, according to sources.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson has not said whether the quarterback switch is permanent — only going so far as to announce Hurts as the starter for Sunday — but player and team sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen last weekend that Hurts will remain the starter this season.

Philadelphia’s decision to bench Wentz for Hurts has garnered the attention of other teams around the NFL, with some expected to inquire about Wentz’s availability in a trade, according to sources.

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The Eagles (4-8-1), a long shot to win the NFC East but still in contention, started their final three-game stretch versus the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, when Hurts  made his second straight start in place of Wentz. The rookie led Philadelphia to an upset victory last Sunday over the New Orleans Saints and could make Philadelphia’s franchise quarterback decision even more difficult if he continues to play well.

The Eagles selected Hurts with their second-round pick in this year’s draft and gradually worked him into their offense, initially using him under center in limited special packages before eventually giving him the full-time job — and benching Wentz — in Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers.

Hurts played well in Green Bay but was even better last week versus New Orleans, passing for 167 yards and a touchdown while running 18 times for 106 yards. He took no sacks and turned the ball over once while becoming the fifth Eagles quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game in the Super Bowl era.

After initially saying he was unsure who would start Sunday, Pederson announced Monday that Hurts would remain the starter versus Arizona.

Team sources told ESPN earlier this month that the Eagles intend to keep Wentz despite his season-long struggles and want him be a major part of their team going forward.

But if the Eagles ultimately decide to move on from Wentz, they must make that decision by the second day of the 2021 league year — sometime in mid-March — because on the third day of the league year, his $22 million base salary for 2022 becomes fully guaranteed and his 2021 roster bonus of $10 million is paid out.

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Washington Wizards teammates laud Russell Westbrook’s ‘great’ overall impact in his debut

Russell Westbrook drove the lane, found Thomas Bryant open for an easy dunk as the Washington Wizards’ big man drew a foul and then immediately ran to Bryant to scream his approval.

In his first match with the Wizards, Westbrook logged only 17 first-half minutes in Washington’s 99-96 triumph over the Detroit Pistons. But his impact was felt with his energy, pace and ability to get the ball moving and draw the defense’s attention.

“You could see in the first half really how many open shots we got,” Wizards forward Davis Bertans said of Westbrook’s impact. “And how many good looks we had and it was all I would say Russ.

“He set the tone for driving and kicking … I am pretty sure it is going to get better from here.” After being held out of the Wizards’ first two preseason games, Westbrook played in the team’s final tuneup before the regular-season opener at Philadelphia on Dec. 23. Westbrook ended with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and shot 4-for-10, including 0-for-3 from behind the arc.

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“It was good,” Westbrook said of his first game as a Wizard. “We won, the most important part … I like where we were tonight.

“My job is to try to set the tone. Have them be ready to play.”

The Wizards saw Westbrook’s encouragement on offense in the ability Bradley Beal had to work one-on-one against defenders and how much the Wizards tried to push the pace. Washington led by as much as 16 and had 10 fast-break points in the first half when Westbrook played.

“It just felt great,” Beal said of playing with Westbrook. “It was great energy … I don’t think it will be tough as people are trying to make it out to be. We both do a really good job off of feeding off of each other, just adjusting to how each other plays.

“The most important thing is his pace and energy he brings to the table … it just works out well. We just continue to play off each other, feed off each other and push each other.”

While Beal missed all seven of his 3-point attempts, he scored 15 points and hit seven field goals.

Beal averaged 30.5 points last campaign but drew the majority of the opposing defense’s attention as the Wizards’ lone star.

“Our job is to make the game easier for him,” Westbrook said. “Find a way to constantly feed him the ball so he can score at a high rate. He has shown he is able to do that. He is going to be great. I am not worried about Brad one bit.”

Bryant benefited from the attention Westbrook drew, scoring 22 points and making 7 of 12 shots. And Wizards coach Scott Brooks loved seeing an animated Westbrook celebrating Bryant’s dunk with the foul and encouraging the big man in the first quarter.

“Really good,” Brooks said when asked about Westbrook’s first preseason action. “He’s been looking like that all training camp. His spirit is about winning, not about stats. He plays the right way and teaches our young fellas the right things. He’s great. “He’s nothing short of spectacular, what he tells the guys, how he coaches his teammates and they listen. What he’s done, how he prepares and how he trains and how he looks at the game is priceless.”

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Chiefs visit Saints for potential Super Bowl preview

Saints coach Sean Payton really considered drafting Patrick Mahomes in 2017.

But the Saints were slated to pick 11th overall and Kansas City traded up to snag Mahomes at pick No. 10.

Record-setting quarterback Drew Brees was 38 years old then, but had no intention of retiring. And as it turned out, the Saints wound up with one of the greatest drafts in franchise history that year anyway.

It started with the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who’ll get his first opportunity to see how he fares versus Mahomes and Co. on Sunday when the Saints (10-3) host the defending NFL champion Chiefs (12-1) in a potential Super Bowl preview.

“Everything worked out for the best,” Lattimore said. “He’s over there doing his thing. I’m over here doing my thing. So, everybody won.

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“And yeah, I’m excited to play him because he’s one of the great up-and-coming quarterbacks,” Lattimore continued. “So you know our game is going to be way up, and you know we’re going to be ready for him.”

With help from playmakers such as receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, Mahomes leads the NFL in yards passing with 4,208 and has his team in pole position to defend its Super Bowl title.

“To be that young and to be as talented as he is is rare,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Mahomes. “For him to have excelled the way he has is a real tribute to the kid and the genes that his parents gave him, too, is part of it — and how hard he works.”

The Chiefs have the best record in the AFC. But ensuring that it stays that way another week requires a victory versus a contending Saints squad looking to bounce back from a stunning loss in Philadelphia.

The Saints can win the NFC South for a fourth consecutive season with a victory (or a Tampa Bay loss). “It’s going to be a great battle,” Lattimore said. “I feel like we’re stacked, just like they’re stacked. So, we’re going to go out there and play and the best man wins.”

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Gennady Golovkin returns to the ring

Once feared, but still revered by many boxing fans, IBF and IBO middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin will be back in the squared circle this Friday versus mandatory challenger Kamil Szeremeta at Seminole Hard Rock and Casino in Hollywood, FL.

Now 38, Golovkin is anxious to get back in the ring.

“I’m ready to fight. I feel great,” said Golovkin Tuesday during a virtual news conference.

Golovkin was last seen in the ring battling Sergey Derevyanchenko. The bout was intense, brutal, and exciting. Golovkin was judged the winner by a close unanimous decision. Many thought the wrong fighter got the nod. I thought Golovkin edged it, but his advanced age became more prominent after the bout.

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As it should. Combining his amateur and professional careers, Golovkin has engaged in close to 450 fights. Ten years ago, fighting in virtual obscurity in Europe, Golovkin captured a title (in Russia) that few respected, and then became something of a folk hero with more belts due to his modest ways and heavy hands.

He was just over 30 when he came to America. Many fighters evaded Golovkin like the plague when he reigned over the middleweight division. He scored 23 straight knockouts and held world titles in the division for eight years.

That was then. This is now.

Szremento, his opponent in a few days, is undefeated in 21 fights, scoring five knockouts. The Polish native earned his shot against Golovkin by stopping Oscar Cortes in two rounds on the undercard of Golovkin versus Derevyanchenko.

“I treat every fight very seriously,” Golovkin said. “At this level, there are no easy fights. Every opponent brings certain challenges.”

A third fight with Alvarez could be on the table next year for Golovkin. Promoter Eddie Hearn has talked of pitting Golovkin against other division champions, Jermall Charlo, and Demetrius Andrade.

Though he’s accomplished a lot in his boxing career, Golovkin is still hungry. “I have not achieved everything I have wanted,” Golovkin said. “I have to win Friday to look into other opportunities.”

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New York Giants QB Daniel Jones has second leg injury

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is dealing with a second “lower leg issue” coming out of Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, coach Joe Judge stated Wednesday.

Jones confirmed Wednesday afternoon it was a low ankle sprain and that it was “sore.” This is in addition to the right hamstring strain that limited his ability to run, resulting in six sacks in the 26-7 loss, and forced him to miss the previous week’s game.

“There really is nothing worse for the wear with the previous injury,” Judge said as the Giants returned to practice. “He did come out with some bumps and bruises. There is another lower leg issue we’re dealing with right now. We’re going to go ahead and move him around at practice and see where he’s at.”

Judge said no decision has been made about whether his starting quarterback will be able to play Sunday night versus the Cleveland Browns. Jones, with a propensity to downplay injuries, said the hamstring feels good and overall he “felt good” during Wednesday’s practice.

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Colt McCoy, who saw an increase in practice reps with Jones listed as a limited participant in practice, would start if Jones can’t play.

“I’m going to give him the opportunity this week to work through practice, see how he moves and how he reacts to things,” Judge stated. “… If he’s not at risk beyond any normal game, then we’ll go ahead and give him the chance to play. If we think that is an issue, that he can’t go out there and defend himself, then we’ll make then best decision for him long term and the team as well.”

Jones looked hampered during Wednesday’s open portion of practice. He backpedaled gingerly while the team warmed up and stretched, and he hobbled at times during individual drills.

His back leg even jolted a couple times after making short throws.

McCoy, who started in Jones’ place in a 17-12 win over the Seattle Seahawks, took more reps than usual at Wednesday’s practice. McCoy was behind center for the first snap with the first-team offense, which is generally a decent indication of who starts at quarterback that week.

Jones was 11-of-21 for 127 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and a lost fumble against Arizona. The second-year quarterback did not have a rushing attempt for the first time in his career.

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