Free agent LB Darius Shaquille Leonard was in Philadelphia visiting the Eagles on Wednesday. The three-time Pro Bowler, who the Colts released in early November, also visited the Cowboys earlier this week.
The 28-year-old is coming off back surgery last season, which caused him to miss 14 games in 2022. This season, Leonard played in nine games with the Colts.
Leonard has a history with Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni. Leonard was with Sirianni in Indianapolis when Sirianni was the offensive coordinator with the Colts from 2018-2020, and the two have a close relationship, which he discussed on Wednesday.
“I was close with him when we were in Indy,” Sirianni said about his relationship with Leonard. “I just thought you can learn so much from good players. Just think about how he went about how he attacked the day, and also how he saw the game as an offensive coach. That was always a good perspective talking to him and I just had so much respect for him.
“It was good to be able to catch up with him and relive some memories, but also talk a little bit about what this building is like.”
Sirianni was asked what his pitch was to Leonard, and according to him, he will be honest about why he believes Philly is good for Leonard.
“All I’ll ever do is just be honest with him and tell him what the situation is here, what the situation is in this building,” Sirianni said.
“I think the pitch is just the guys that we have in this building, and some of them he has a prior relationship, too. I want Shaq to make the decision that’s best for him. Because, again, when there is that prior relationship you want to make sure — and that’s what I said to him, ‘I just want you to make the best decision for you. Take all the information from both places and do what’s best for you.’
“So, I’ve called him a bunch the last couple days, and, shoot, he’ll make the decision that’s best for him. I’m confident in that. He’s a good person.”
With Zach Cunningham(hamstring) possibly out for a few weeks, the Eagles need linebacker help, and Leonard would help. If it’s down to the Eagles and Cowboys, Leonard could make his debut when the two teams collide in Week 14. The only question is what color jersey he will be wearing that day.
On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Eagles announced that DeSean Jackson will officially retire as a member of the team on Friday, December 1.
The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, who played eight of 15 NFL seasons with the Eagles, will be recognized as the honorary captain for the team’s big showdown against the 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
Originally a second-round draft pick (49th overall) of the Eagles in the 2008 NFL Draft, Jackson spent eight of his 15 seasons in Philadelphia, where he garnered three Pro Bowl nods (2009, 2010, 2013) as a dual-threat on offense and special teams. In 95 career games with the Eagles, he ranks third all-time in receiving yards (6,512), sixth in receptions (379), and ninth in receiving touchdowns (35). As a punt returner, he finished second in punt returns (132), third in punt return yards (1,296), and is the team’s all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (tied Darren Sproles with four).
Jackson’s most decorated season came in 2013 when he set career highs in receptions (82), receiving yards (1,332), touchdown catches (nine), and 100-yard games (five) en route to his third Pro Bowl selection. It was his third season with 1,000-plus receiving yards, which tied the franchise mark set by Harold Carmichael and Mike Quick. His 82 catches that season were the fourth-most in team history and third-most by a wide receiver.
After the 2013 season, Jackson was released by Chip Kelly and the Eagles and signed with the then-Washington Redskins; he would return to Philly in 2019 and would spend two seasons with the Eagles.
“DeSean Jackson was a dynamic playmaker who captivated Eagles fans with his game-breaking speed, unique skill set, and explosive play,” said Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO, in a press release. “What made DeSean truly stand out during his accomplished 15-year career was his ability to make miraculous plays look routine.”
Here are some highlights of Jackson’s career:
-Became the first player in NFL history to earn Pro Bowl honors at two positions – kick returner and wide receiver.
-Tied the NFL record with eight touchdowns of 50-plus yards in a single season.
-His 52.8 yards per score average during the 2009 season was the highest in NFL history among players with at least 10 touchdowns in a season.
-Became the second player in NFL history to score touchdowns via receiving, rushing, and punt return during each of his first three seasons.
-Became the fifth player in NFL history to have eclipsed 900-or-more receiving yards in each of his first four seasons.
Jackson’s most memorable play came on December 19, 2010, when the Eagles faced off against the division-rival New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Down 31-10 in the fourth quarter, the Eagles remarkably went on to score 21 unanswered points to tie the game, 31-31. With 12 seconds remaining, the Giants were forced to punt from their own 35-yard line. Jackson, the return man, secured the football off the turf and raced 65 yards to the end zone as time expired, which marked the first time in NFL history that a game had ended on a walk-off punt return.
A native of Los Angeles, CA, Jackson played collegiately at the University of California (Berkeley) and played 15 NFL seasons for the Eagles, Washington, Tampa Bay, Rams, Raiders, and Ravens.
Puerto Rican junior middleweight contender Xander Zayas hopes to close the year on an emphatic note.
Zayas will take on Spain’s Jorge Fortea in a 10-round battle on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Zayas-Fortea will serve as the co-feature to the WBO featherweight world title showdown between reigning champ Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez and unbeaten Mexican contender Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza.
Ramirez-Espinoza and Zayas-Fortea will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Zayas (17-0, 11 KOs) signed with Top Rank at 16 and has been on the path to superstardom ever since his pro debut in October 2019. In his fifth year as a pro, he is already inching closer to a title shot in the competitive 154-pound division. He notched an eight-round unanimous decision over Ronald Cruz during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in June and a fifth-round TKO against the hard-hitting Roberto Valenzuela Jr. in September. Fortea (24-3-1, 9 KOs), a 13-year pro from Spain, is riding a three-bout winning streak.
Following a recent training session, this is what Zayas had to say:
“We are counting down the days to fight night! I can’t wait for the bell to ring on December 9 in South Florida. I dedicate this fight all my Boricuas from the ‘Island of Enchantment’ and the ‘Puerto Rican Diaspora’ who I know will tune in to my fight that night on ESPN.”
“I am determined to close the year with a bang and to continue positioning myself as one of the main contenders at junior middleweight. In the new year, I’m aiming to continuing my climb up the ranks step by step. That is why I push myself to give my all every day in the gym. You will see a better version of me every time I fight.”
“I am grateful for the support of the fans. I am also very happy to share the card with a great friend whom I respect a lot like “El Tren” from Cuba, Robeisy Ramírez. We are already close to a sold out venue, and we are ready to bring joy to our people. We’re coming to put on a great Latin party between Cubans and Puerto Ricans.”
DJ Khalid would be happy with the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles(10-1) because all they do is win, and that continued on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field as they defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-34 in OT.
Philadelphia won after Jalen Hurts(18/31, 200 yards, three TDs, interception, two rushing TDs), who recorded a career-high five total touchdowns against the Bills(6-6), had a 12-yard touchdown run to seal the victory in the extra session.
For the second consecutive week, the Eagles overcame 10-point halftime deficit, got a come-from-behind victory for the fourth straight week, and, most importantly, have the best record in the NFL. According to Elias Sports, Hurts is the second NFL QB since 1950 to start 10-1 or better through 11 games in back-to-back years, joining Peyton Manning (2005-06).
In addition, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Hurts has won 14 straight games against teams with winning records, marking the longest streak by an NFL QB since 1950.
Even with all this winning, Hurts, who struggled in the first half as he completed only 4 of 11 passes for 33 yards and two turnovers(interception, fumble), and a rushing touchdown, says he’s not playing up to his standards.
“We always find a way, and that’s something that you can’t really take for granted,” he said. “Obviously, I have had a ton to clean up, and I have not executed to the level of my standard. What that [standard] is yet? It seems to be enough. But in terms of the standard that I like to play to consistently and I’d like us to play to consistently. As a team, enough is never enough. So, you just want to continue to strive for more and play to that standard.”
The second half was a different story for Hurts. He was 14/20 for 167 yards and three touchdowns; he had seven carries for 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Hurts made every play that needed to be made in the second half, including putting the team in position to tie the game as Jake Elliott connected on a 59-yard field goal late in regulation, and scoring a touchdown in OT after the Bills made a field goal on their first possession in OT.
“Just clutch in clutch moments, right?” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “There’s going to be plays he wants back from the first half. There’s going to be plays that we called that we’re going to want back from the first half.
“Really made some big-time plays when they mattered the most, none more than three touchdown passes. I thought he hit DeVonta (Smith), read the defense perfectly, and hit the ball to DeVonta on the touchdown. What an unbelievable throw and catch by OZ [WR Olamide Zaccheaus] and Jalen on the touchdown on the scramble. I mean, my goodness, that was a good play.
“He made a lot of really clutch plays in the second half. Then the big one obviously at the end right there. We did a good job of blocking up front. Jalen got himself through there for a touchdown in a clutch moment.”
Now, the Eagles have their biggest game of the season to date next Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers(8-3). A win against the Niners would pretty much give the Eagles home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC. However, to Hurts’ point, they must play to their “standard” to keep winning.
-According to Elias Sports, Sirianni became just the third head coach in NFL history to guide his team to a 10-1 start or better in consecutive seasons. The other head coaches on that list are Tony Dungy (2005-06) and Don Shula (1972-73).
-Brandon Graham set a franchise record with his 189th regular-season game played with the Eagles, breaking the previous mark held by David Akers (188, 1999-2010). A 14-year NFL veteran, Graham is also tied with Chuck Bednarik (1949-62) for the most seasons played in team history and is 4th on the club’s all-time sacks list (73.0). In addition, Graham sacked Bills QB Josh Allen on third-and-14 during the fourth quarter. He has posted 2.5 fourth-quarter sacks over his last two home games.
-Hurts became the first QB in NFL history with 10+ rushing TDs in three consecutive seasons (10 TDs in 2021 and 13 TDs in 2022).
-Jake Elliott nailed a 59-yard FG with 0:20 remaining during the fourth quarter to tie the game at a 31-31 score. Elliott, who is the Eagles’ all-time leader in 50+ yard FGs (26), has made 6 FGs of 50+ yards this year, marking a single-season career high. Elliott has converted 8-of-9 FG attempts during the fourth quarter/overtime this season, including his 54-yard game-winning FG vs. Washington (10/1/23).
Last week, it was announced that Adrien “The Problem” Broner suffered an injury to his right-hand and won’t be able to fight against Chris Howard on December 2 at Casino Miami in Miami, Florida.
King announced the fight card will still happen, and on Monday, he announced the fights that will remain on the card.
WBA Continental America’s Middleweight Champion Ian Green (17-2, 11 KOs), who has shown his talents at Casino Miami in the past, will defend his title against Vaughn Alexander (18-7-1, 11 KOs) of St. Louis, MO.
Tre’Sean Wiggins (15-5-3, 8 KOs) of Newburgh, NY will defend his WBA NABA Welterweight Championship against Chris Howard (18-2-1, 8 KOs) of Cincinnati, OH.
The vacant WBA International Lightweight title bout will be up for grabs as Antonio Perez (8-0, 5 KOs) of Harrisburg, PA will take on Las Vegas’ Haskell Rhodes (29-5-1, 14 KOs).
The WBA NABA Middleweight Championship will be decided when Alex Castro (13-1, 11 KOs) of Tulua, Colombia challenges Harry K. Cruz (14-3, 11 KOs) of Bronx, NY via Puerto Rico.
The fifth title fight will see the vacant WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Lightweight championship on the line as Fort Lauderdale’s DeVon Williams (3-0, 3 KOs) looks for the belt against the savvy Nelson Morales from Scranton, PA via the Dominican Republic.
One undercard fight rounds out the card as an eight-round bantamweight attraction features Boynton Beach, Florida’s Lawrence Newton (15-0, 7 KOs) and Jonathan Smith (8-2, 6 KOs) from South Bend, IN.
Make it two straight for quarterback Tommy DeVito and the New York Giants after defeating the New England Patriots 10-7 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
New York secured the victory when New England kicker Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal with six seconds to go.
DeVito was not great, but he was good enough; he completed 17 of 25 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown; he had zero interceptions, but he did lose a fumble.
However, this game was about the defense, who intercepted QB Mac Jones twice in the first half, and his replacement Bailey Zappe once in the second half, which led to 10 points for the Giants.
In the last two weeks, the Giants forced nine turnovers, but according to a report from FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, there’s a rift between head coach Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.
After their win over the Patriots, Daboll discussed his relationship with Martindale.
“I’d say the biggest argument that Wink and I have had is who has the last piece of pizza,” Daboll said. “I got a lot of respect for Wink. He’s done a good job. I’ll leave it at that…
“I got a lot of respect for Wink. He’s a heck of a coach. I’m glad he’s on the staff.”
Back to DeVito, the New Jersey native, who played a high school state championship game at MetLife Stadium, got his first start at MetLife as a pro on Sunday, and he was happy to get another win.
“It feels great,” DeVito said about winning at MetLife Stadium. “Any game after a win is awesome, but to be able to do it here at home for my first time is surreal. I’m going to enjoy the moment.”
The undrafted rookie free agent was excited to hear his name introduced to the Giant faithful.
I’m not going to lie, I kind of blacked out,” he said. “I was kind of just in my element. I didn’t know if people were cheering or booing or what was going on. It could’ve been anything, but I was just locked in, enjoying it.”
Jones(ACL) is out for the season, and Tyrod Taylor(ribs), but Daboll did not wholly rule out going back to the veteran quarterback.
“We’ll have our bye week here,” Daboll said. “We’ll discuss a lot of things. Look at a lot of things. So, over the next few days, that’s what we’ll do.”
New York returns on Monday night, Dec. 11, at home against the Green Bay Packers.