Eagles DC Gannon talks life without Brandon Graham

On Sunday, in the Eagles’ loss to the 49ers, Philadelphia lost the heart and soul of their defense and the team in defensive end Brandon Graham, who is out for the season after he ruptured his Achilles tendon. 

Before this injury, the 33-year-old Graham had missed only one regular-season game in the last five seasons with the Eagles.

Now, it’s next man up for the Eagles, and fortunately for them, Philadelphia has decent depth on the defensive line. They have Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, and Tarron Jackson, who will have to step up in Graham’s absence. However, replacing a Pro Bowl defensive end is never easy.

On Wednesday, Eagles defense coordinator Jonathan Gannon discussed the loss of Graham.

“Yeah, I talked to our guys yesterday about the void that has taken place with [DE] Brandon [Graham],” Gannon said. And, obviously, not being able to play with us the rest of this year.

“You know, from a leadership and a character, and an attitude standpoint, I think collectively we have to – everyone has to, you know, try to fill that void collectively because not one guy is going to be able to do that. We do feel good with the leaders that we still have within the defense, really good about the leaders that we have.

“And from the standpoint of him, the roles that he was playing, you know, other guys are going to have to step in and fill where he was playing at, and we feel good about the guys that are going to do that.”

Tough break for the Eagles, and hopefully for Graham, he can make a full recovery.

Cavs officially sign Denzel Valentine

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Denzel Valentine, the team announced on Wednesday.

The deal had been rumored for weeks, and according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, it’s a partially guaranteed two-year deal.

Last season, Valentine averaged 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 62 games (three starts) for the Chicago Bulls. He scored in double figures on 21 occasions, including a career-best seven straight double-digit scoring performances from February 3-15.

Valentine spent the first four seasons of his career with the Bulls. He has played in 232 regular-season games (45 starts) with career averages of 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 19.8 minutes. His 342 three-pointers rank 13th all-time in Bulls franchise history. His best season was in 2018, when he averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game.

After a four-year career at Michigan State, Chicago originally drafted the 27-year-old guard with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

The 6-5 Valentine could help the Cavs off the bench at the guard and small forward spots.

Brady named FedEX Air Player of the Week

Tom Brady has done it again. Brady was voted FedEx Air Player of the Week for the second consecutive week, the NFL announced on Wednesday.

Brady has now won FedEx Air Player of the Week honors four times in Tampa Bay – the most in team history.

In Tampa Bay’s 48-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Brady completed 24-of-36 passes (66.7 percent) for 276 yards, five touchdowns, and zero interceptions, earning a 129.2 passer rating. His five passing touchdowns were the most by any player in Week 2, while his 129.2 passer rating ranked third. Brady also tied the Buccaneers franchise record for single-game passing touchdowns, making him the first player in team history with multiple five-touchdown performances.

He is just the fifth quarterback in league history with four-or-more touchdown passes in each of his team’s first two games of a season. Sunday’s game vs. Atlanta marked the 35th time Brady threw at least four touchdowns in a game, tying Peyton Manning (35) for the second-most such games in NFL history.

Through two games, Brady’s nine passing touchdowns lead the league, and his 655 passing yards rank fifth in the NFL, while his 113.3 passer rating ranks seventh.

Heinicke hopes to keep the momentum going against Buffalo

The Taylor Heinicke show rolls into Buffalo(1-1) as the Washington Football Team(1-1) battles the Bills on Sunday.

Heinicke, who led Washington on a game-winning drive against the Giants last Thursday, will make his third career start on Sunday, but unlike his other starts, this game will be on the road, and he’s excited about the challenge.

“It’ll be my first road game starting like you said, but it’s at Buffalo with fans, so it’s going to be loud,” Heinicke said on Tuesday. “There’s going to be some silent count stuff that we’re working on this week. It’s a good defense, and we’re excited for the opportunity and the challenge.”

Against the Giants, Heinicke threw for 346 yards, two touchdowns, interception, which got him a lot of attention last week; Heinicke, who was an undrafted rookie free agent in 2015, doesn’t want last week’s success to impact his play against Buffalo.

“My biggest thing is I don’t want the success from last week to equal the non-success of this week if that makes sense,’ he said. “Sometimes, a lot of people get caught up in how they played the previous week, and it hurts them the next week. So, we had a long weekend, it was nice to enjoy it, but once Sunday and Monday came around, it was time for Buffalo. So again, the biggest thing is to keep doing it every week, and that’s the goal.” 

If Heinicke can continue to play well, the 28-year-old could be Washington’s quarterback of the future, which could put him in line for some endorsement deals, like promoting Heiniken beer, which he said he enjoys drinking.

“I’m trying, man; I’m trying,” Heinicke said about trying to get a Heiniken endorsement deal. “At some point, I might just start calling out Bud Light (joking)…

“My agent said that they had sent me a 24-pack at home, never received it. And they said they can’t deliver to my address when there’s a gas station a block away that has Heineken.”

Obviously, the endorsements won’t come if he’s not playing well. However, if he can keep it going, this would be a great story, and while beating the Giants is good, defeating Buffalo on the road would be even better for Heinicke and Washington. 

Canelo on Plant: ‘He crossed the line’

Unified 168-pound champion(WBA/WBC/WBO), Canelo Alvarez(56-1-2, 38 KOs), and IBF 168-pound champion Caleb Plant(21-0, 12 KOs) were involved in a heated press conference on Tuesday in Beverly Hills, CA.

The two went face-to-face, and Plant walked away with a cut. Alvarez started the skirmish after he pushed the IBF 168-pound champion. Plant responded by swinging at Alvarez, who ducked and responded with a few punches that cut Plant.

If there wasn’t any bad blood between Plant and Alvarez before Tuesday, there’s definitely some now, which will ultimately be settled on November 6 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas(Showtime PPV) when the two battle it out to see who is the king of the 168-pound division.

Here’s how Plant’s face looked after the brawl:

Plant described what happened from his point of view.

 “We just had some normal back-and-forth banter up there, and then whatever happened, happened. It’s none of my concern, though,” Plant said. “I’m focused and locked in on November 6.”

Alvarez added on the brawl.

“You can say whatever to me, but not to my mom,” he said. “I’m going to fight anyone who says something about my mom. And he swung first. I just pushed him. He swung first, and I do what I do. He crossed the line.

“It will be over in eight rounds or less. I’m going to knock out this guy. Easy.”

Hopefully, this fight won’t be postponed due to Plant’s cut. Pushing and shoving can be fairly common at boxing press conferences, but punches are not usually thrown, and if they are thrown, the punches typically miss. 

Plant has an opportunity at a reported career-high payday of around $10 million for this fight, so with or without the cut, it’s highly unlikely he pulls out of this fight.

If it still happens, November 6 should be a lot of fun.

Watch below as Alvarez and Plant brawl at press conference:

Joshua signs career-long promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing

Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World Anthony Joshua has signed a new career-long promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. 
 
The IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO ruler puts his crowns on the line against former Undisputed Cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London this Saturday September 25.
 
‘AJ’ turned professional with Matchroom Boxing in October 2013 after memorably capturing gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Super-Heavyweight category and becoming an instant star in the UK. 
 
Quickly establishing himself as one of the most devastating punchers in the Heavyweight division with a series of brutal KO’s, Joshua picked up the vacant Commonwealth crown with another huge stoppage win over Gary Cornish in Greenwich. 
 
The O2 became a home fortress for Joshua and his next assignment came against old amateur foe Dillian Whyte in December 2015. The pair were involved in a heated build-up before AJ made it 15 KOs in a row against ‘The Body Snatcher’, claiming the prestigious British Title in the process. 
 
Joshua climbed the ranks until he was in a position to fight for his first World Title in April 2016 against IBF titleholder Charles Martin, who he quickly destroyed inside five minutes before making short work of American opponents Dominic Breazeale and Eric Molina in his first two title defences.
 
Joshua’s breakthrough victory came when he produced the performance of a lifetime to claim the WBA Title against modern legend Wladimir Klitschko in an unforgettable battle in front of a post war record crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.
 
He went on to sell-out the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales twice, defending his belts against the tough Cameroonian Carlos Takam in October 2017 before unifying the division by taking Joseph Parker’s WBO belt in March 2018.
 
Joshua defended his World Titles with a devastating knockout of dangerous Russian Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium in September 2018 in what was the Olympic Champion’s fourth straight stadium fight in front of over 80,000 fans. 
 
In his quest for global domination, the British sensation signed to defend his World Titles against Brooklyn’s Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller at the famous Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1 2019, but the Brooklyn native failed a series of drug tests leaving Joshua’s team searching for a replacement opponent for his big American debut.
 
Joshua’s quest to become the Undisputed Heavyweight king was temporarily halted in its tracks as late stand in opponent Andy Ruiz Jr floored him four times on route to a monumental seventh round stoppage win that shocked the world. 
 
After tasting defeat for the first time in his professional career, Joshua jumped into an immediate rematch with Ruiz Jr on neutral ground to reclaim his position at the number one Heavyweight on the planet. 

Ruiz and Joshua met again in a colossal ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in the historical town of Diriyah in Saudi Arabia, with the Watford man putting on a brilliant display of boxing to widely outpoint the Mexican to become a two-time Heavyweight World Champion.
 
Joshua returned home to take on his IBF Mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at The SSE Arena, Wembley a year later in December 2020 after their June meeting at the home of Tottenham Hotspur was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
In the first fight attended by a British crowd since the global pandemic began, Joshua dominated and then floored Pulev to score a brutal ninth-round knockout. The Bulgarian was down on three occasions, twice in the final round, before ‘AJ’ ended the fight with a vicious right hand. 
 
“We’ve built some great foundations over the years and I appreciate Matchroom – the company, the team, the family business,” said Joshua. “That’s kind of what drew me towards you guys as well, the integrity that the Hearns have when it comes to boxing and business. 
 
“I’ve felt comfortable during my years as a boxer and I always felt that the business outside of sport is harder than the actual fighting due to the history and some of the problems that some fighters have had. So, to be with Matchroom Sport has been a blessing for myself, my family and my team. 
 
“Outside of that, what Matchroom Sport have done is created an environment for boxing fans. The shows that we have managed to put on have been phenomenal. When I walk out to fight, I look around and I’m like, ‘mate, this is unbelievable’. 
 
“From where we began, to the middle of the journey, the foundations we have created are phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. In my humble opinion, what better place to be than Matchroom Boxing? I have heard that my signature was hot property. I’m happy where I am. A handshake is good enough for me, but the signature solidifies it and I’m happy where my signature is. 
 
“Thank you to Eddie Hearn, Barry Hearn and the family, Frank Smith and all of the Matchroom staff, as well as Freddie Cunningham and the team at 258MGT.”

Giants’ Golladay: ‘I let the emotions get the best of me’

Last Thursday, the New York Giants(0-2) fell to the Washington Football Team in heartbreaking fashion 30-29. New York was on the verge of winning after Dustin Hopkins missed a 48-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. However, New York’s Dexter Lawrence was offsides, and Hopkins got another shot. This time, from 43 yards, and he would make it!

Before those issues, Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay was seen shouting at his quarterback Daniel Jones on the sidelines. Many thought Golladay was shouting at Jones, but on Monday, he clarified what happened. 

According to Golladay, he was talking to OC Jason Garrett, not Jones.

“Pretty much just me talking to JG (Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett) a little bit, and that’s two competitive guys right there,” Golladay said. “Moreso, just me wanting to do anything I can. Not so much, ‘Give me the ball more,’ though…

“Division game. Wanted to leave that spot with a win if anything.”

Golladay, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal with New York in free agency, said he never reacted like that before in his career.

“Really, I’ve never done anything like that either – but really just passionate, just being a competitor,” he said. “I love just doing anything I can to help the team. I let the emotions get the best of me.”

In two games, Golladay has seven catches for 102 yards. Despite what we saw against Washington, Golladay is happy with his role with New York.

“I’m happy with the role,” he said. “I’d say I’m happy with the role. I’m getting put in some tough situations and (I’ve) got to make some tough catches, and that’s all I could ask for.”

Football is a game full of passion, and sometimes that passion gets the best of players, and it got the best of Golladay last Thursday. 

At this point, New York has to put this behind them. Maybe, this incident brings the Giants together, and hopefully for them, they can get right at home against the Falcons.

Watch as Golladay talks incident with Jones, Garrett:

 

Berlanga, Williams to return on Fury-Wilder III undercard

Brooklyn’s newest young knockout prodigy and a former unified world champion from Philadelphia will see action Saturday, Oct. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in preliminary bouts before the highly anticipated heavyweight trilogy grudge match between WBC and lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury and former heavyweight world champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder.

Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga will fight former world title challenger Marcelo Esteban “El Terrible” Coceres in a scheduled 10-round showdown for the vacant NABO super middleweight belt, while Julian “J-Rock” Williams will face Mexico’s Vladimir Hernandez in a 10-round junior middleweight bout in his first fight since losing his title belts.

Berlanga-Coceres and Williams-Hernandez will be televised live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, FS1 and FOX Deportes, and simulcast on ESPN+. Preliminary bouts will stream live on the ESPN App and FOX Sports App starting at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.

The all-heavyweight Fury vs. Wilder III ESPN+ and FOX Sports PPV bonanza begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features 2016 Nigerian Olympian “The One and Only” Efe Ajagba squaring off against fellow unbeaten Frank “The Cuban Flash” in the 10-round co-main event; the highly anticipated 12-round rematch between Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius and Adam “Babyface” Kownacki; and the eight-round PPV opener featuring 21-year-old sensation Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson versus Russian veteran Vladimir Tereshkin.

Berlanga (17-0, 16 KOs), the Brooklyn-bred puncher with Puerto Rican roots, became one of boxing’s most talked-about fighters by scoring first-round knockouts in his first 16 fights. The 2020 Prospect of the Year, he’s walked to the ring with mentor and multi-platinum hip hop artist Fat Joe and become a social media sensation with his highlight-reel stoppages. The knockout streak ended in April, as Berlanga knocked down Demond Nicholson four times in eight rounds and had to settle for a unanimous decision. Coceres (30-2-1, 16 KOs), from Argentina, challenged Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO super middleweight world title in November 2019 and was nearly level on the scorecards before being knocked out in the 11th round. He last fought in June, knocking out Nelson Nicolas Rosalez in the second round.

Berlanga said, “I am thrilled to be fighting on the Fury-Wilder III card, and I am coming do what I always do, which is to steal the show and knock out my opponent in devastating fashion. Coceres is in for a rude awakening on October 9. Do not get up for a snack when I’m fighting. It’s going to be a short, brutal night. Count on it.”

Philadelphia’s Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs) became a unified world champion at 154-pounds in May 2019 when he upset Jarrett Hurd in one of the year’s best fights, winning a close-quarters brawl by unanimous decision. The 31-year-old dropped the titles in his first defense, losing to Jeison Rosario in January 2020. Williams had been riding a five-fight winning streak going into the Rosario matchup, in which he added victories over former champion Ishe Smith and hard-hitting contender Nathaniel Gallimore to his ledger. He returns to action on Oct. 9 against the 32-year-old Hernandez (12-4, 6 KOs). Originally from Durango, Mexico, Hernandez now lives in Denver, Colorado, and most recently earned a decision victory over longtime contender Alfredo Angulo in August 2020.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to compete on this amazing card,” said Williams. “I’m excited to be getting back in the ring and starting my journey back to the very top of the division.”

Preliminary bouts include a 10-round featherweight bout between two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez (7-1, 4 KOs) and unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Orlando “Capu” Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs), heavyweight phenom Viktor Faust (7-0, 5 KOs) in an eight-rounder against Mike Marshall (6-1, 4 KOs), the pro debut of former U.S. amateur star Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington in a four-round featherweight contest against an opponent to be named, and junior welterweight standout Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (11-1-1, 10 KOs) versus Victor Vazquez (11-5, 5 KOs) in an eight-rounder.

Plant on Canelo: ‘This man is in trouble’

Boxing’s consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, Mexican superstar and unified WBA/WBC/WBO Super Middleweight World Champion Canelo Álvarez will face undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant in a historic showdown on Saturday, November 6, live on SHOWTIME PPV at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Canelo, a four-division world champion, will look to capture undisputed status for the first time in his Hall of Fame-caliber career as he returns to SHOWTIME where he made his pay-per-view main event debut in September 2013. The unbeaten and supremely talented Plant attempts to earn a career-defining victory and keep his perfect record intact as he makes his fourth world title defense. The winner of the November 6 bout will stamp his name in the history books as the first undisputed 168-pound world champion of the four-belt era.

Having already captured world titles at 154, 160, 168 and 175-pounds, Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KOs) has amassed a Hall of Fame resume at just 31-years-old. The fighting pride of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Canelo began his quest for the undisputed super middleweight championship in December 2020 by defeating then unbeaten Callum Smith to capture the WBA and WBC titles. Most recently, Canelo added the WBO belt via a stoppage victory over previously undefeated Billy Joe Saunders in May. November 6 will be Canelo’s first attempt at an undisputed title.

“At the end of the day, this is what I want to do with my career, make history,” said Canelo. “These things, like becoming the first to be the unified champion at 168 pounds, is making history. To potentially be one of the few who holds this prestigious honor in any weight class makes me very happy. For my country, this would be a huge accomplishment. I want to be remembered as one of the greatest in the history of the sport.”

The 28-year-old Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) captured his world title and burst onto the 168-pound scene by defeating Jose Uzcategui in January 2019. Plant was the underdog coming into the Uzcategui fight. He quickly set the tone scoring two early knockdowns on his way to a clear unanimous decision victory. It was an emotional night for Plant, who had dedicated his championship win to the memory of his late daughter, Alia, who passed away in 2015.

A native of Ashland City, Tennessee, Plant now lives and trains in Las Vegas, guided by his trainer Justin Gamber, along with his father and co-trainer Richie Plant. Caleb has successfully defended his title three times, dominating Mike Lee to earn a third-round stoppage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in July 2019. He then earned a TKO victory over Vincent Feigenbutz in a homecoming bout in Nashville in 2020. Most recently, Plant bested former super middleweight world champion Caleb Truax, winning a unanimous decision in their January clash.

“On November 6, the world will witness boxing’s first ever crowned undisputed super middleweight champion,” said Plant. “When my hand is raised in victory, the world will know then, that I’m the new face of boxing. Everyone should order the PPV now and get their popcorn ready, because I’m about to put on a performance that will go down in history as one of the best ever. This man is in trouble.”

Jags’ Lawrence: ‘Everyone is frustrated; everybody is disappointed’

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence has not lost a lot of football games in the last few years, but after playing his first two games in the NFL, Lawrence and the Jaguars are 0-2 as they fell to the Broncos(2-0) 23-13 in their home-opener at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday.

It started out well for Lawrence as he connected with Marvin Jones on a 25-yard touchdown pass as the team drove 83 yards on their opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead. However, Jacksonville’s offense would not score again and would accumulate only 106 yards the rest of the way following that opening drive.

“Yeah, I think it’s a combination of a few things, just some ill-timed errors on everyone really,” Lawrence(14-33, 118 yards, touchdown, two interceptions) said after the game. “It was different people each time; we had a turnover and another one at the end, so that’s on me, and some penalties, whatever it may be—just bad timing for those things to happen. And then Denver played off that momentum and put a few scoring drives together. I think we were in the game the whole game. Really first half should have had the lead. Then after that, I didn’t think we kept playing like we did in that first quarter.”

Jones, who had six catches for 55 yards and one touchdown, added on the offensive struggles after the first drive: “We just had a lull. We just had lulls. I think it was a common theme after that drive in the second and third quarters. It’s just something that we need to figure out, and we have to find that energy and that spark and keep it. So yeah, I think that’s what it was.”

Even with the losing, Lawrence feels Jacksonville is improving.

“Yeah, I hate losing, like I said last week, so it’s not fun, obviously,” Lawrence said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to — you’ve just got to realize we’re getting better, and each week we’ve got to keep getting better, and it’s a long season. We’ve still got 15 more games, kind of like I said last week. That’s the mindset in the locker room, too. Everyone is frustrated; everybody is disappointed. Obviously, we worked our tails off to win this game, and we felt like we were prepared. Just got to keep getting better, though.”

At 0-2, Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer will do everything he can to keep things positive in Jacksonville and keep the “nonsense” out of the locker room.

“I’ve seen nonsense seep into organizations when you’re 2-0, and I’ve seen it when you’re 0-2,” Meyer said. “Well, I guess I haven’t seen it when you’re 0-2, but I’ve seen it when you lose a game. We can’t allow that. The good thing is I don’t see that happening. If I do, I told the players and staff that’s the one thing that will not be tolerated with the Jags is nonsense.”

Jacksonville did play better in Week 2, but again, they fell short. As they go forward, they have to limit the turnovers(two) and take advantage of scoring opportunities(two missed field goals). Growing pains are not easy, but it may be what the Jaguars have to go through in 2021.