The strategy is sound, yet simple enough for anyone who has watched the Giants the past two seasons to come up with:
Stop Saquon Barkley, stop the Giants.
“We had a commitment and we weren’t going to be bashful about that commitment,’’ Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after his team’s 26-16 win Monday night. “We thought that guy was a catalyst for whatever that they were going to do offensively. We put our secondary in harm’s way some in an effort to do so. We needed to stack the line of scrimmage. We needed to bring people … and we did. We did what we thought was necessary to minimize his impact on the game.’’
Giving the ball to the most talented player on the field became a gift to Pittsburgh.
On 15 carries, Barkley finished with 6 yards rushing. On 11 occasions, the highest-drafted running back of the past 13 years was hit behind the line of scrimmage.
“Saquon played hard … [but] it’s a collective effort,” Giants coach Joe Judge said Tuesday. “No one person can do better for all of us to have success.”
Five will suffice.
Looking the part of a unit with three new starters — including debuting center Nick Gates and free-agent acquisition Cam Fleming at right tackle — the Giants’ offensive line repeatedly set its best player up for failure.
Daniel Jones wasn’t given much help, either. In addition to being sacked three times, Jones was pressured on 26 dropbacks, more than any other quarterback in the league faced in Week 1.
New offensive line coach Marc Colombo can make adjustments, but he can’t fast-track cohesion.
“As a unit, we just gotta go ahead and keep improving collectively,” Judge said. “That’s the biggest thing. The one thing about those bigs is it doesn’t matter how one guy plays. It’s all five [that] have to play in sync all the time and they have to get that chemistry going forward. I have no doubt there’s gonna be a lot of improvement going forward. I’m very confident in all the guys we have on the offensive line.”
Rookie Andrew Thomas generated the most optimism.
Playing all 68 offensive snaps in his pro debut against one of the league’s best defensive fronts, the fourth-overall pick out of Georgia earned the line’s highest grade (60.8) according to Pro Football Focus, besting Gates (54.4), Fleming (51.6), Kevin Zeitler (49.6) and Will Hernandez (46.3).
Judge envisions even better performances from Thomas in the future.
“I think he showed that he’s got a lot of ability in this league and there’s a reason he’s here,” Judge said. “He fought really hard. I think he played well overall. He learned a lot of valuable lessons going against top opponents like Bud DuPree. That’s something you can’t simulate. I don’t care who you’ve got on your defensive front. He’s just different than guys you may have. He plays with a distinct motor. He’s a tough competitor. You have to have a lot of respect for him, and for Andrew to have his first NFL competition in a game against a guy like that that says a lot for how he was able to hold up throughout the game.”
David Ortiz says he’s recovering from COVID-19
Retired Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz says he’s recovering after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Ortiz said Friday that he was asymptomatic, but that his brother who was also infected had to spend a week in the hospital and lost 25 pounds (11 kilograms). Ortiz was speaking during the NESN broadcast of the Red Sox game against the New York Yankees on Friday.
“This is no joke,” Ortiz said. “You don’t realize how crazy this is until it hits home. And I learned so much about this COVID-19 thing while I was going through the process. It’s an experience to be honest with you.”
Sunday Night Football DraftKings Picks: NFL DFS lineup advice for Week 2 Patriots-Seahawks Showdown tournaments
The Seahawks host the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in Week 2, a chance for Cam Newton to return to prime time for the first time since last year’s disastrous Week 2 showing on Thursday Night Football that subsequently ended Newton’s season. Hopefully he’ll do better this time around because our DraftKings Showdown picks are New England-heavy, along with some Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett action.
After the Patriots ran Newton so much in Week 1, it’s not easy to predict game flow for this one, so we’ve gone with a super value captain pick in Damiere Byrd. It might not be for the risk-averse, but it wouldn’t take much from Byrd for the rest of this lineup to carry us a long way.
MORE DK SHOWDOWN: How to win a Showdown contest
DraftKings Showdown Picks: Seahawks vs. Patriots
Captain (1.5x price, 1.5x points): WR Damiere Byrd, Patriots ($2,100)
Byrd led New England receivers in Week 1 snaps despite not catching any passes (he was on the field for 56-of-64 possible plays). Byrd showed some intriguing possession-receiver ability in Arizona a year ago, so at his bottom-of-the-barrel price and possibility of added value in DK’s PPR scoring, we’re taking a shot on a supreme value captain.
FLEX: QB Russell Wilson, Seahawks ($12,800)
Wilson never seems to care much about who he’s playing – the numbers always look good in the end. He benefited a bit in Week 1 from his touchdowns to Chris Carson being through the air rather than on the ground, but regardless, Wilson likely will be the highest-owned player in this game and we can’t afford to fade him.
WEEK 2 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
FLEX: QB Cam Newton, Patriots ($12,000)
Newton looked as healthy as he’s looked in a long time in the opener, and a trip to play at Seattle isn’t what it once was, what with no fans and a much different defense than the Legion of Boom. Cam should get us points both through the air and on the ground on Sunday night.
FLEX: WR Tyler Lockett, Seahawks ($9,200)
You could use DK Metcalf here, if you prefer. Someone’s going to struggle against Stephon Gilmore on Sunday, and the hope is that it’s the out-wide Metcalf instead of the slot-man Lockett. Wilson trusts Lockett so much that even a difficult matchup shouldn’t take his targets away, and we like Lockett in DK’s PPR scoring.
FLEX: WR Julian Edelman, Patriots ($8,000)
Here’s one little DK trick in Showdown contests: Follow the ‘questionable’ tag. Edelman has already been reported likely to play (check before kickoff to be sure), but he’ll have that ‘Q’ next to him on DK all day. In our experience, that depresses ownership, so it’s the perfect time to take advantage of a player made for DK’s PPR scoring.
WEEK 2 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
FLEX: RB Sony Michel, Patriots ($5,600)
Between Michel and Newton, we should have New England’s goal-line scoring covered. It’s always risky playing a New England RB, but you’ve got to take those risks sometimes to win a tournament. We’ve already got too much investment in New England’s short passing game to try James White out, so we’ll take Michel instead.
Liverpool confirm £41m signing of Wolves star Jota
Liverpool have confirmed the signing of Diogo Jota from Wolves as the Portuguese winger heads to Anfield in an initial £41 million ($53m) move.
Goal confirmed Liverpool’s interest in Jota on Friday, as the Reds moved quickly onto their next target shortly after sealing the signing of Thiago Alcantara.
Just one day after confirming the signing of the Spain international midfielder, Liverpool have locked up a deal for Jota, who joins on a five-year contract as he becomes the second signing to arrive at Anfield this week.
The Reds could end up paying as much as £45m ($58m) for the Portugal international, with up to £4m set to be owed to Wolves in potential add-ons after they agreed to flexible payment terms that were crucial to completing the deal.
Liverpool will pay as little as 10 per cent of the initial figure over the next 12 months, with some of the cost also offset by Ki-Jana Hoever’s £10m ($13m) move the other way.
The duo of Jota and Thiago joins full-back Kostas Tsimikas as Liverpool’s summer signings, with Jurgen Klopp’s champions having added to their squad as they look to defend their Premier League crown.
Following confirmation of his move, the 23-year-old told the club’s official website: “It’s just a really exciting moment for me and my family.
“All of my path since I was a kid and now, to join a club like Liverpool – the world champions – is just unbelievable. I just want to get started.
“It is one of the best teams in the world – the best at the moment because they are world champions. When you look at the Premier League, you always see Liverpool as one of the biggest teams in the country, so it’s impossible to say no.
“So we just want to come [here], to give our best and hopefully I can become a good option for Liverpool in the future.”
He added on the prospect of playing alongside Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino: “They are world-class players. Every match, they try to win. They score a lot of goals and they work together.
“I want to be one more piece to join that three. That’s what I will do. They are obviously more experienced than me, so the first stage is to connect with them, to learn with them. Hopefully I can be a good help for them and the club to win games.”
Jota, who will wear the No.20 shirt for Liverpool, originally moved to Wolves in 2017, originally on loan from Atletico Madrid before the signing was made permanent one year later.
The Portuguese winger scored 44 goals in 131 appearances for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, helping them rise from the Championship to the Premier League and into contenders for the European places.
After scoring nine goals during his first season in England’s top flight, Jota added seven more in 2019-20, while adding a further nine in 14 Europa League games.
He will now join Liverpool as much-needed cover for the club’s first-choice front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
Klopp and Liverpool had also targeted Watford star Ismaila Sarr, but turned to Jota after refusing to meet the £40m ($52m) asking price for the Senegal winger.
Wolves boss Nuno all but confirmed the deal earlier on Saturday , saying that Liverpool have added a “great player and boy” that was looking to move on to new challenges.
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