This Week in US Sports: Holdout season begins, Nuggets lock up Murray

By Sports Desk July 25, 2019

The talk in the NFL right now is about who is not there rather than who is.

In MLB, teams are starting to battle injuries and, in the NBA, a young team just locked up a key piece officially.

All that and more this week from the United States.

 

1. Holdout season

Let's be honest, NFL training camps aren't about who shows up anymore, they're about who is staying home. Le'Veon Bell didn't show up to Pittsburgh Steelers camp last season and missed the entire year because he refused to play under the franchise tag. That has to be in the back of everyone's minds this year as key players continue to stay away from their teams.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is officially holding out for a new deal, Dallas Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott wasn't on the plane with the team camp on Thursday and Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones also has yet to show up to any offseason activities with Kansas City.

Will any of these men be brave enough to do what Bell did and miss some of the season? We shall see.

 

2. Taylor Lewan's start of season in question

The Tennessee Titans are built on their offensive line, but one key piece may be gone to start the season.

Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan apologised to the Titans as he faces a four-game suspension after failing a drugs test. Lewan insists he never knowingly took a banned supplement.

This is huge to Tennessee's start to the year as quarterback Marcus Mariota has already dealt with a lot of injuries and will need all the protection he can get.

3. MLB injuries piling up

It's that time of year in baseball. As the 100-game mark passes, more little injuries start to pop up and playoff hopefuls have already been hit leading up to the trade deadline.

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is out with a groin injury for a while, Tampa Bay Rays lefty Blake Snell could be out for a month after undergoing surgery on his elbow and Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo could miss a month with a hamate bone injury.

All three of these players' teams have playoff aspirations and they will need each man going into the playoffs. It's tough to get hurt now, but missing a month in July is far better than missing one in September.

 

4. Jamal Murray extended

The Denver Nuggets have one of the best teams in basketball and they secured their future this week by officially announcing they have signed Jamal Murray to a five-year max extension.

The deal is reportedly for $170million and will make him the highest-paid Canadian basketball player in NBA history, according to TSN.

The Nuggets finished second in the Western Conference last season and will have some of the best continuity of any team in the conference as they bring back a great young core which includes Murray and Nikola Jokic.

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    Patrick Mahomes has avoided significant damage despite dislocating his kneecap while in action for the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, according to reports.

    Mahomes was taken off in the first half of the Chiefs' win over the Denver Broncos, having appeared to have his right knee popped back into place while still on the field.

    The quarterback was set to undergo MRI scans on Friday, and the NFL Network later reported the 24-year-old had suffered no additional damage.

    It was said Kansas City plan to have reigning NFL MVP Mahomes back on the field this season.

    ESPN reported Mahomes could even be back in around three weeks in a best-case scenario.

    Mahomes, who had been playing through an ankle problem, was able to leave the field without a cart and will now be aiming to lead the Chiefs in the playoffs.

    The team are 5-2 through seven weeks, returning to winning ways on Thursday following back-to-back defeats to the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

    Kansas City lost the AFC Championship game to eventual Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots last season as Mahomes enjoyed an outstanding sophomore year.

    He threw 50 touchdowns in the 2018 regular season and had added another 15 this term before backup Matt Moore was required to step in against the Broncos.

  • Rugby World Cup 2019: Boks ready to banish memories four years on from the miracle of Brighton Rugby World Cup 2019: Boks ready to banish memories four years on from the miracle of Brighton

    Such was the scale of Japan's Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa four years ago, they made a movie - 'The Brighton Miracle' - to commemorate one of the great sporting upsets.

    There will surely be a sequel on the way after this year's Brave Blossoms reached the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Scotland, and box-office sales could soar through the roof if history repeats itself on Sunday when they face the Springboks again.

    South Africa will start the last-eight contest as overwhelming favourites to gain revenge, with their star-studded cast including Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

    Japan also have no shortage of talent to play leading roles and will be backed by a raucous crowd when they attempt to break new ground once again on home soil.

    As the Boks plot to spoil the party for their hosts, we reflect on how Japan pulled off a monumental shock at the last World Cup in England, as well as looking at the prospects of lightning striking twice.

     

    Hesketh and Goromaru rock Boks

    Japan were not given a prayer in the opening Pool B match given Zimbabwe were the only team they had previously beaten in a World Cup match – and that win was way back in 1991.

    Yet Eddie Jones' side humiliated a vastly experienced Springboks team with their exciting brand of rugby, coming from behind to secure the most dramatic and unlikely of victories.

    Karne Hesketh crossed right at the death and Ayumu Goromaru claimed a 24-point haul to leave the two-time champions not knowing what had hit them following a 34-32 loss.

     

    Meyer fronts up to 'Boklash'

    Heyneke Meyer came under fire after his side lost the plot and rampant Japan made them pay.

    The then-head South Africa coach said: "I have to apologise to the nation. It was just not good enough. It was unacceptable and I take full responsibility.

    "Every game is going to be tough but there are no excuses."

     

    Jones: I had to look at the scoreboard

    Jones, who landed the England job after his success with Japan in 2015, was pinching himself after the underdogs snatched victory with their last throw of the dice. 

    The Australian said: "Japan beating South Africa? I had to look at the scoreboard at the end just to see if it was true or not. We kept hanging in there. It looked at one stage when they got seven points ahead that they would run away with it.

    "That would have been the normal scenario, like the horror story where the woman goes for a shower after midnight and you know what's going to happen. Normally they would score three or four, it ends up 50-20 and everyone says, 'Well done Japan, you tried hard, you were brave'. But we were more than brave."

     

    What happened next?

    Jones said the objective for Japan was to go on and reach the quarter-finals after downing the two-time champions, but they fell agonisingly short.

    A heavy defeat to Scotland turned out to be crucial as Japan finished third in Pool B after failing to pick up any bonus points.

    South Africa, Scotland and the Brave Blossoms all won three and lost one of their four games, but it was Japan who missed out.

     

    Hope springs eternal for revenge-seeking Boks

    Although Japan are riding on the crest of a wave as they prepare for their first World Cup knockout match, South Africa have looked formidable despite making a losing start against New Zealand.

    Potent in attack and solid in defence, the Springboks have turned their fortunes around under Rassie Erasmus and dethroned the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

    They also hammered Japan 41-7 in a pre-tournament warm-up match and is it hard to envisage them suffering another upset at the hands of their next opponents.

  • CC Sabathia removed from Yankees' ALCS roster CC Sabathia removed from Yankees' ALCS roster

    CC Sabathia has made his final appearance for the New York Yankees after the team confirmed they had removed the veteran pitcher from their roster.

    Sabathia, who confirmed in February the 2019 MLB season would be his last, exited the Yankees' defeat to the Houston Astros on Thursday with a shoulder injury.

    The 39-year-old pitcher has now been removed from the Yankee's roster for the remainder of the American League Championship Series (ALCS), having suffered a subluxation of his left shoulder joint.

    Sabathia will be replaced by pitcher Ben Heller and is ineligible to return this postseason.

    The home crowd gave Sabathia a standing ovation in what has now become his final appearance at Yankee Stadium.

    Over his 19-year career with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and Yankees, Sabathia posted a 251-161 regular-season and a 3.74 ERA.

    Earlier this season, he became just the third left-handed pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts in their career.

    Sabathia was a six-time All-Star and won the Cy Young Award in 2007 with Cleveland. He was named ALCS MVP in 2009 on the way to a World Series title with the Yankees.

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