Mystery remains around the New England Patriots starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the New York Jets with head coach Bill Belichick refusing to declare his hand.

Mac Jones was benched after three series for backup Bailey Zappe in the Patriots' 33-14 home defeat to the Chicago Bears on Monday.

Belichick insisted that decision was not performance-based after the game, alluding to the fact Jones was returning in Week 7 following a three-game absence due to a high ankle sprain.

Jones was not listed on the Patriots' injury report this week, yet Belichick declined to elaborate on the situation on Wednesday ahead of practice.

"We'll see how it goes today," Belichick told reporters five times when asked about the QB situation.

Onlookers at Patriots practice on Wednesday claimed that Jones took the vast majority of first team reps in an indication he will start on Sunday.

Jones, who was taken with the 15th pick in last year's NFL Draft, has started four games this season, completing 67 of 103 attempts for 799 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions.

The second-year quarterback admitted that he had not been told by Belichick if he would start against the Jets but insisted he was fine with that.

"He's done a good job, been very open with me," Jones said. "I think that's all you can ask for, clear communication. Putting all the rat poison away and playing the best I can play and becoming the best quarterback I can be.

"Like I said, those are things that we want to work through as the week goes along. I don’t really care if they tell me or not, it's just important that I'm ready to go. Just as Zappe is ready to go.

"It's the same way every week, you want to prepare as a starter… I plan to start every game I've ever played in."

All-Star Damian Lillard's hot start to the new season has been curtailed after exiting the Portland Trail Blazers' 119-98 loss to the Miami Heat with a right calf strain on Wednesday.

Lillard, who had averaged 37.66 points across his past three games heading into Wednesday's game, limped out with approximately five minutes left in the third quarter.

The Blazers point guard appeared to injure his calf while shooting a three-pointer to cut the margin to 77-70, before limping out after the next offensive play.

Portland confirmed that Lillard had suffered a right calf strain, but the 32-year-old downplayed the severity of the issue after the game.

"It wasn't nothing that I was overly concerned with," Lillard told reporters. "I just know that it wouldn't make sense to try and push through it in the fifth game of the season.

"Honestly if this was a playoff game, I would have played. It would have been tight and uncomfortable, but I would have played. If that gives you any indication of how concerned I am now or would have been."

With Lillard forced out, the Blazers suffered their first loss of the season. Lillard finished the game with 22 points from 26 minutes.

Lillard is averaging 33.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 0.8 steals per game through five games this season.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash claimed Giannis Antetokounmpo's forearm struck Patty Mills' throat leading to his furious reaction and first-ever ejection from Wednesday's 110-89 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Nash was thrown out of the game with 4:24 remaining in the third quarter with the Nets up 70-66 after a non-call from the officials when Antetokounmpo drove forward on Mills who was floored.

The Nets coach was incensed by the non-call and yelled at the officials leading to a technical foul from Josh Tiven. That only further irritated Nash who had to be restrained by assistant coaches and players as he argued with the officials, leading to his ejection.

"I was just standing up for our guys," Nash told reporters. "I thought Patty took a forearm in the throat from Giannis right in front of the ref.

"I didn’t think that was fair. I don’t think I was overly demonstrative. I was upset that I got a technical."

When asked why Nash got given the technical, he added: "There wasn’t an explanation, it's a lot going on out there. What happened", happened. I said my piece on the court. That's really all there is."

Kevin Durant, who scored 33 points with six rebounds and two blocks, offered his support to Nash.

"You've got to handle yourself differently as a coach but sometimes you just want to go out there and fight for your guys and that’s what I thought he did tonight," Durant told reporters.

Meanwhile, Ben Simmons struggled again with four points on two-of-seven field shooting with none-of-two from the free-throw line, along with four personal fouls. Simmons has nine field goals and 18 personal fouls in four games this season.

Nets teammate Kyrie Irving was overheard at one point in the game demanding Simmons take a shot. Irving would not be drawn into discussing his under-fire teammate's form.

"If we're going to come in and be honest as a team, I'm not going to come in and be critical of what Ben's done right or done wrong every single night," Irving said. "He's a basketball player, he's a professional, he has the skills to be a great professional, he's done it in the past and he hasn't played in two years.

"You guys keep coming here and asking me like 'what about Ben, what about Ben?' he hasn’t played in two years, give him a f***** chance, stay on him. We're here just to give him positive affirmation while he's out there."

The result moved the Nets to 1-3, while the Bucks are 3-0, with Antetokounmpo in dominant form with 43 points, backing up 44 against the Houston Rockets on Saturday for the most productive two-game span in his 10-year NBA career. The Greek forward scored 34 of his 43 points in the second half.

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said: "That's vintage Giannis. That's probably about the best. He's had a lot of great performances. That second half he did everything, he was phenomenal… It's hard to put the right words on how good he was in the second half."

Giannis Antetokounmpo went up a gear in the second half while Steve Nash was ejected for the first time as a head coach as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Brooklyn Nets 110-99 on Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo scored 34 of his 43 points in the second half – 28 of those coming in the paint - as the Bucks put the foot down with a 67-44 after half-time at Fiserv Forum. 

The Greek forward backed up his 44 points against the Houston Rockets on Saturday, meaning his 87 points in their past two games is the most across a two-game span in his 10-year NBA career.

The Nets were leading 70-66 in the third quarter when Nash was ejected after being incensed by a non-call from the officials after Antetokounmpo bumped into Patty Mills.

Kevin Durant scored 33 points on 10-of-23 shooting from the field with six rebounds and five turnovers, while Kyrie Irving added 27 points for the Nets who led by as much as 12 points.

Ben Simmons battled again with four points on two-of-seven field shooting with none-of-two from the stripe, along with four personal fouls. Simmons has nine field goals and 18 personal fouls in four games this season.

The Bucks shot at 56 per cent from the field in the second half, with Antetokounmpo supported well by Bobby Portis with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

LeBron's Lakers' winless start drags on

LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers slumped to an 0-4 start after Nikola Jokic put in a dominant display to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 110-99 victory.

Jokic scored 31 points with 13 rebounds and nine assists for the Nugs, who were far better defensively. The Serbian led both teams outright in points, rebounds and assists for the 85th time in his career, which is the most by a center in NBA history.

James, who fell to an 0-4 start for the second time of his career and first since his 2003-04 rookie season, managed 19 points with seven rebounds and nine assists, while Anthony Davis had 22 points with 14 rebounds. Russell Westbrook was out injured.

The Lakers' NBA-worst three-point struggles continued, albeit with a slightly improved eight-of-30 (27 per cent) from beyond the arc.

Sixers' struggles continue as Trent Jr sparkles

The Philadelphia 76ers' early season struggles continued too, going down 119-109 to the Toronto Raptors, leaving them with a 1-4 record.

The Sixers' record is their fifth 1-4 or worse start through five games. Philadelphia were 1-4 in 2017-18 yet made the playoffs, but missed out on the other three occasions when they were 0-3.

Joel Embiid scored 31 points with five rebounds and Tyrese Maxey impressed with 31 points including four three-pointers. Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr bettered him with five triples, scoring 27 points, while Pascal Siakam added 20 points and 13 assists.

One day after he made comments critical of his teammates, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said that nobody told him they had a problem with his assessment.

During his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday, Rodgers had harsh words for some teammates.

"Guys are making too many mistakes shouldn’t be playing, you know," he said. "Gotta start cutting some reps, and maybe guys who aren’t playing, give them a chance."

On Wednesday, Rodgers did not back down from those comments amid criticism of the message it sent within the camp.

"I don’t understand why people have a problem with things that are truthful," Rodgers said. "I’m calling things the way I see it. People don’t think I need to air that stuff out, that's their opinion. But I’m doing what I think is in the best interest of our guys, and I've tried a lot of different things from a leadership standpoint this year, and I was just relating my personal feeling on the situation.

"I didn’t call anybody out by name. I think we all need to be on the details, and that includes me."

Rodgers said his comments should not come as a surprise since it was nothing he has not shared behind closed doors inside team headquarters at Lambeau Field.

"If one of those guys has a problem with it, I'm right here, and I'd love to have a conversation," Rodgers said. "I enjoy those conversations. I enjoy any type of conflict like that because I know the resolution on the other side is going to make us a better unit, a better friendship, a better cohesion on the field."

Rodgers has also been criticised for making the feedback public rather than keeping it internal. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur did not have an issue with Rodgers’ approach.

"Sometimes the truth hurts," LaFleur said. "I don’t think he publicly called out individuals, I don’t believe, I didn’t sit there and listen to the whole thing, so I just think that you have to get to the root of the truth."

Rodgers and the Packers are heavy underdogs heading into Sunday's road matchup against the Buffalo Bills as they try to avoid the team's first four-game losing streak since 2016.

Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams has been banned for one game for "recklessly making contact" with a referee in Monday's 120-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Williams made physical contact with referee Cheryl Flores, after he jumped up in anger after being called for an offensive blocking foul while defending Zach LaVine in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics forward was immediately given a technical foul and ejected from the game.

Williams had to be restrained by teammate Derrick White, before being escorted off the court as he yelled back towards the court as he headed towards the locker room.

NBA executive vice president, head of basketball operations Joe Dumars announced the suspension for "recklessly making contact with and directing inappropriate language toward a game official" on Wednesday.

Williams will serve the one-game suspension in Friday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Darius Garland is in contention to return for the Cavs in that game, having been out since suffering a left eye injury in their season opener against the Toronto Raptors.

The Cavs' All-Star participated in team shootaround on Wednesday while wearing goggles for protection but missed the 103-92 win over the Orlando Magic later that day.

Aaron Boone's future as the New York Yankees manager appears assured with owner Hal Steinbenner stating he does not see a need for change.

The Yankees' long wait to reach their first World Series since 2009 extended after their clean sweep ALCS defeat to the Houston Astros concluded their season on Sunday, having gone 99-63 across the regular season.

Boone has been Yankees manager since succeeding Joe Girardi in December 2017, losing twice in the ALCS and twice in the ALDS during his tenure along with a disappointing Wild Card exit last year.

Despite the Yankees' Wild Card exit in 2021, Boone signed a three-year contract in October with the club option for 2025.

"As far as Boone's concerned, we just signed him and for all the same reasons I listed a year ago, I believe he is a very good manager," Steinbrenner told reporters on Wednesday. "I don't see a change there."

The Yankees' 2022 season promised much more, having started 61-23 with Aaron Judge in MVP form before injuries impacted their run home, losing D.J. LeMahieu (toe) and Andrew Benintendi (wrist).

Boone's side went 38-40 to end the regular season after their bright start, before a hard-fought 3-2 ALDS win over the Cleveland Guardians and their sweep defeat to the Astros.

"We didn't get the job done... it's time to get it done," Steinbrenner said. "Any time we don't win a championship, it's a disappointing year.

"We had a lot of good ups, we had some downs, we had some injuries like everybody else."

Judge's future at the Yankees remains a hot topic after his record-breaking 62-homer regular season but Steinbrenner would not be drawn on his status.

The outfielder turned down a seven-year contract prior to the season starting, meaning he is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

"We haven't talked about anything yet," Steinbrenner said. "Cash [general manager Brian Cashman] and I had some preliminary conversions."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta concedes his side's premature Champions League exit is a shame but was philosophical about their "young project" under Xavi.

The Blaugrana were officially eliminated and consigned to the Europa League following Inter's 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen earlier on Wednesday, before producing a limp home display in a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich.

Barcelona have been condemned to a group-stage exit for the second straight season, while that comes almost 12 months since Xavi's appointment to replace Ronald Koeman.

The five-time Champions League winners spent significantly in Xavi's first off-season at the helm, bringing in Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Hector Bellerin, Franck Kessie, Marcos Alonso and Raphinha.

Barca's failure to reach the Champions League knockout stages will have a financial impact on the club, but Laporta was philosophical.

"It's a shame, but you can't blame the players or the coach for anything," Laporta told Barca TV. "We have to look forward, because we have LaLiga and other competitions left.

"This is a young project in which from the beginning we knew we were going to have ups and downs. The league remains and we have to show that we continue."

The Blaugrana are second in LaLiga after a strong start to the campaign with 28 points from 11 games, three points behind Real Madrid, whose El Clasico victory earlier this month put them top.

"LaLiga is very important and we have it close," Laporta said. "The message is to look forward. This has already happened."

Barca's 3-0 home loss to the German champions marked the sixth straight defeat against Bayern, including the 8-2 Champions League quarter-final rout in 2020.

"Bayern is a consolidated and powerful team, one of the best in Europe and they did not play anything, they left relaxed," Laporta added.

"For us it was very complicated and the [Inter] game against Plzen was torture, but we still have faith."

Barca midfielder Pedri was more forthright in his assessment of the side's elimination.

"For me it's a failure," he told Movistar. "We don't deserve to be in the Champions League, we've shown it in games. But we have many competitions to face and give joy to the fans who have been with us at all times."

This was the first time Barca have been eliminated from the Champions League group stage in back-to-back seasons since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 campaigns under Louis van Gaal.

Madrid will be Spain's only team in the last 16 with Sevilla, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid all out with a game to spare. The last season Spain only had one team in the knockout rounds was 1998-99, also Los Blancos.

Julian Nagelsmann praised Bayern Munich's "very mature" performance as they eased to a 3-0 Champions League win against Barcelona at Camp Nou.

Goals from Sadio Mane, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Benjamin Pavard – all assisted by Serge Gnabry – earned the Bundesliga side victory against the beleaguered hosts.

Barca had already seen their elimination from the Champions League confirmed after Group C rivals Inter's 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen earlier on Wednesday.

Similarly, Bayern were already assured of a last-16 place and went on to clinch top spot with another three points against the Blaugrana.

"The performance was very strong, very mature," Nagelsmann said after the game, in which his team denied Barca a single shot on target.

"We knew we needed to play well, defend well and wait for [attacking] situations. Serge played an incredible game, the defensive line played a great game as well.

"In 94 minutes we did not concede a single shot on target… the team played a tremendous game."

Much of the focus before and after the game was on Barcelona's underwhelming Group C campaign.

Nagelsmann suggested the discourse around the LaLiga side would not be so negative had they avoided defeat in Munich, when Xavi's men lost 2-0 despite playing well.

"I am not a Barca coach, but I think we were a little bit lucky in Munich," he said. "If that game works out differently, then Barca would be looking stronger."

In a game that saw Barca's former Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski was kept quiet, it was fitting that his former deputy, Choupo-Moting, scored.

The Cameroon international has netted six goals in 11 games (four starts) in all competitions this season, including five in his past four outings for Bayern.

"Choupo's style always has something to do with the flow because he needs that confidence," Nagelsmann said of the 33-year-old. "He is a great finisher, he rarely finishes badly and I think he's doing a great job in general, not just scoring goals.

"We're very happy to have him. Last year he was missing a lot for different reasons, now he's here fully and we're trying to support him as best as possible."

Matt Ryan has vowed to embrace his new backup role after the Indianapolis Colts opted to make Sam Ehlinger their starting quarterback.

The Colts are currently 3-3-1 for the campaign, and Ryan – a postseason acquisition from the Atlanta Falcons – has thrown a league-high nine interceptions. 

Ryan threw two interceptions – one of which was returned 76 yards for a touchdown – during the Colts' 19-10 loss to their AFC South rivals the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

On Monday, head coach Frank Reich revealed the team's plan to make Ehlinger their starting QB for the rest of the season, and Ryan accepts that decision.

"It's not something I've dealt with [before], but I've been around a long time and seen that it happens," Ryan said.

"I've always preached that you've got to accept and embrace the role that they decide for you and try and be the best in that role that you can be. That's what I'll do.

"As a player, you just always anticipate, you're getting ready, you're going to go and so that's where your mindset's at. 

"There was a little bit of surprise and shock at the beginning, but it's a decision they had to make and, as a player, as a team-mate, you have to move forward and you've got to help out where you can."

Reich, meanwhile, has refuted the suggestion the decision to change quarterback means the Colts are giving up on the season. 

"I can tell you this for sure, nobody is waving the white flag," Reich said. "It's not in my DNA. It's not in our players' DNA. I would never do that in a million years. I just couldn't do that."

Ryan has completed 203 of 297 passes for 2,008 yards at a 68.4 per cent completion rate this season, with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has also been sacked 24 times, tied for the second most in the NFL this season.

Jan Oblak believes Atletico Madrid's supporters "deserve so much more" after Los Rojiblancos were eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday.

Atletico bowed out in the group stage for the first time in five years following a 2-2 draw with Bayer Leverkusen at Civitas Metropolitano, where Yannick Carrasco's last-gasp penalty was saved by Lukas Hradecky.

Oblak insisted the team take full responsibility after Porto's earlier 4-0 thrashing of Club Brugge meant only a victory over Leverkusen would be enough to maintain their hopes of progressing from Group B.

"[It is] a very cruel way [of being eliminated]. It's football," the goalkeeper told Movistar+. "We have done everything to win, but the previous games have punished us. We have not had the little bit of luck that is needed. 

"We can only thank from the bottom of our hearts the support of the fans. They deserve so much more. The team is very sorry.

"It's the fault of the whole team. And not only this match, but also the previous ones. It's a shame that we can't continue in the Champions League."

Meanwhile, Simeone felt Atletico's continental campaign was epitomised by the late penalty drama involving Carrasco, who deflected a follow-up effort wide after Saul Niguez headed the initial rebound against the crossbar.

But the head coach has called for a strong response from his players, who can secure Europa League football when they face Porto next week if they better Leverkusen's result against Brugge.

"In many of the games, we could have scored some more goals with some forcefulness," Simeone said. "The final action – with the missed penalty, the shot to the crossbar and the shot against Carrasco – sums it up.

"It is clear that we are not looking for excuses, we failed to do things. It makes you angry not to be able to have the possibility of continuing in Porto.

"It is clear that it is a hard blow, we did not expect it, we did not want it nor was it in our project, but it is. There are two ways to continue; either you side with the victim, or on the side of the strong to keep digging."

Antonio Conte accused the VAR of "creating a lot of damage" after Harry Kane saw a 95th-minute goal disallowed in a chaotic 1-1 draw with Sporting CP, claiming other big clubs receive more favourable calls than Spurs.

Tottenham thought they had sealed a spot in the Champions League's last 16 with a game to spare on Wednesday, when Kane rifled home at the last after Rodrigo Bentancur cancelled out Marcus Edwards' opener.

However, Kane was ruled to have been offside from Emerson Royal's knockdown following a three-minute VAR review, leaving the hosts incensed. 

Conte was dismissed by referee Danny Makkelie as the Tottenham bench erupted in protest following the decision, and he continued to express his fury in his post-match interview.

"About the end, I think that the ball was in front of Kane and the goal is a goal. I don't understand the VAR, the line that they put," Conte told BT Sport.

"It's very difficult to comment on this decision and VAR, I think, is creating a lot of damage. 

"I want to see if, in another stadium or with another big team, they are ready to disallow this type of goal. I'd like to know this.

"[I see] a lot of injustice. I don't like this type of situation. I see no positive things."

Conte was equally bemused by the decision to show him a red card, having been one of several members of the Spurs bench to spill onto the pitch in the aftermath of Kane's strike.

"All the people came inside the pitch after the decision to disallow the goal," Conte added. "He came to give me a red card, maybe because I was the most popular person going onto the pitch."

The result – coupled with Eintracht Frankfurt's 2-1 win over Marseille – leaves Group D finely balanced, with just two points separating all four teams after five games. 

That means Spurs will need a draw to secure a top-two finish when they visit the Stade Velodrome next Tuesday, but Conte was reluctant to look beyond Wednesday's contentious finale.

"It's only one point, but I don't understand why we have to wait for another game when we could finish the qualification in this game," Conte added.

"When you invent this type of situation, which is incredible, you create a lot of damage to the club, and you create problems." 

Giovanni van Bronckhorst bemoaned Rangers' failings against "immense" Champions League opponents after another hammering at Napoli edged them closer to an unwanted record.

Rangers have shipped 19 goals in the Champions League this season, the most in a single group stage by a Scottish side, after a 3-0 dismantling by in-form Napoli in Group A on Wednesday.

Van Bronckhorst's side have lost five straight games in Europe for just a third time, with this being their first such sequence in a single campaign.

But Rangers could hit a new low with defeat in their final group outing against Ajax, entering that match with a goal difference of -18.

Dinamo Zagreb hold the worst group-stage record in Champions League history, pointless and with a -19 goal difference in the 2011-12 campaign.

Van Bronckhorst has repeatedly called on his side to learn in the face of high-quality opposition, and he echoed that message after yet another humbling in Naples.

"You can't imagine the opponents we are facing. We think about our performances, of course, but we have to be realistic," the Rangers manager told BT Sport.

"The level we are facing in this group is immense. You have to be ready for 90 minutes – I think the moments we created in the game, we should have taken.

"In too many games we are conceding too many goals. You want to compete at the highest level. It is tough, I said that when we qualified, but you want to be here.

"The more you play it, the more experience you will have as a team and as a player. It's a competition we want to keep competing in. You have to start well in an environment like the one we faced today.

"The two goals we conceded in the first 15 minutes, we are two against one in the centre against one striker. For us to give those goals, it's too easy.

"The reaction we showed afterwards was very positive. We had a big moment to score just before half-time. In the second half, we showed character, we were well organised and tried to push for the goal.

"We created some big moments, but if you don't take those moments in these kinds of games it is difficult to win."

Rangers host Ajax on Tuesday, when they must avoid defeat to avoid claiming at least a share of unwanted history.

Van Bronckhorst added: "[The Ajax game] is a chance to get our first points. We want to leave the tournament with our heads held high, and it's another chance to play at home."

Xavi believes Barcelona being eliminated from the Champions League prior to kick-off led to their insipid showing in a 3-0 home defeat to Bayern Munich.

Inter's 4-0 win against Viktoria Plzen earlier on Wednesday meant Barca were unable to progress from Group C, leading to a second season of dropping into the Europa League following the group stage.

A slow start from the Blaugrana saw them fall 2-0 down after 31 minutes, with Sadio Mane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scoring, before Benjamin Pavard tapped in a third in second-half stoppage time.

Speaking after the loss, the Barca coach acknowledged his side were outclassed, saying: "Today we didn't compete, we didn't reach their level. [Bayern] were very good, much better, more intense.

"I'm sure that the elimination before the game affected us psychologically. I'm sure it did."

This was the first time Barca have been eliminated from the Champions League group stage in back-to-back seasons since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 campaigns under Louis Van Gaal.

Xavi bemoaned being drawn into a tough group, and seemed to suggest that he and the club will not necessarily view their elimination as "failure".

"We were drawn in a really difficult group and everything has happened to us in the Champions League," he added. "It was very cruel, but today we didn't compete. On other days we did, but not today.

"I understand that from the outside people talk about failure, but from the inside we have a different analysis.

"It's a cruel way to go out of the competition, but if we analyse the other games, I think we deserved more."

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