Anthony Joshua triggered a rematch clause against Oleksandr Usyk for the heavyweight championship, promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed.

Joshua was dethroned by Usyk, who was crowned WBA, WBO and IBF champion after a unanimous points decision victory at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on September 25.

Now 24-2, having also suffered a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019 before winning their rematch, Joshua is set to step into the ring again with Usyk next year.

"Joshua is training now, and today we officially triggered the rematch for the Oleksandr Usyk fight, which we will see early next spring," Hearn told DAZN.

"So back in the game and looking for him to become a three-time heavyweight champion."

Joshua had been tipped for a long-awaited duel with Tyson Fury next year before his upset at the hands of Ukrainian opponent Usyk.

Fury is due to face Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday as they conclude a contentious trilogy – the former won the second bout following a draw.

"As I said, I'll fight Tyson Fury, Wilder, without the belts. The belts are fun. It's great, it's legacy. But with or without the belts, I'll fight whoever," Joshua said after his loss to Usyk.

"The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.

"But would you still watch it, without the belts? That's the main thing – is you've got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe."

Star tight end George Kittle has been placed on injured reserve by the San Francisco 49ers.

On the same day he turned 28, the Niners confirmed their two-time All-Pro had been subject to the roster move due to an ongoing calf problem.

The decision means Kittle must miss at least three matches, including the upcoming NFC West divisional matchup at the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, a game for which he had initially been listed as doubtful.

San Francisco are already without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who also has a calf problem, against the Cardinals, meaning rookie Trey Lance will start.

The team, who are 2-2 after losing two straight games, will hope Kittle is good to go again by Week 8 when they meet the Cardinals once more.

Kittle has struggled with his nagging injury for much of the 2021 season and has made just 19 catches for 227 yards, as he waits to score his first touchdown of the year.

He was restricted to just eight regular season games last year after suffering a broken foot.

Prior to those injury problems, Kittle had been utterly dominant in 2018 and 2019, helping the Niners to the Super Bowl in that period with 2,430 yards and 10 receiving TDs across 30 regular season games.

Kittle was a fifth-round draft pick ahead of the 2017 season.

Kevin Naiqama was "overcome with emotion" after his two tries led St Helens to a 12-10 win over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford, their third straight Super League Grand Final success.

Saints' 2020 triumph had come in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in front of empty stands, but they had their fans back to celebrate the three-peat.

It was a far less dramatic victory than that last-gasp defeat of Wigan Warriors, however, even if the game swung back and forth, bookended by Naiqama's tries.

His first effort came as he fought through two challenges on the try line to touch the ball down.

But Catalans were just two points behind at the break and made the most of Tommy Makinson's yellow card – the first in Grand Final history – as Mike McMeeken grounded the ball after Josh Drinkwater's kick hung in the air and eventually dropped his way.

A more precise kick at the other end provided the final twist, though, with Jonny Lomax's no-look effort bobbling into the arms of Naiqama. Lachlan Coote made no mistake with the decisive extras.

Catalans had clinched their Leaders' Shield against Saints in astonishing fashion last month, trailing by 18 points with four minutes to play at Magic Weekend and winning.

Yet there was no repeat of those St James' Park heroics, as Dragons failed to mount another attack in the closing minutes.

"I'm overcome with emotion," Naiqama told Sky Sports. "I love this team and I love this town."

Lewis Hamilton is refusing to write off his chances of another Turkish Grand Prix win despite serving a 10-place grid penalty after qualifying fastest.

The Mercedes superstar had to hand over pole position to team-mate Valtteri Bottas following an engine change this week.

It means Hamilton, who comes into Sunday's race two points ahead of Max Verstappen, must start from 11th, denying him a 102nd pole at a 31st different circuit.

Only one of his 100 Formula One victories have come behind the front three rows – starting from 14th in Germany in 2018 – although one of his two triumphs from sixth came at this event last year. That was the sole example of a Turkish GP win from beyond the front row.

"I was already third at the end of Turn 1 last year, so that made a bit of a difference," Hamilton told Sky Sports on Saturday. "But it's a much, much different weekend, a much different track grip.

"My eyes are still solely set on winning the race; it's going to be very hard from 11th but not impossible. We're just making sure we'll deliver maximum attack tomorrow."

Bottas, the beneficiary of Hamilton's switch, acknowledged Saturday could not have gone any better for Mercedes.

"Obviously, as a team result, it was as we planned," he said. "Lewis, with his penalty, now gets the minimum penalty he can, and I'm on pole, so it should be good."

But Bottas insisted he was not instructed to slow down in order to allow Hamilton to secure the fastest time, having him start from 11th instead of 12th.

"No, I wasn't asked to slow down, and I was definitely going for it," said the Finn, who will leave for Alfa Romeo at the end of the season.

"I started to struggle a bit with the front end in the last sector, so I just had some understeer in Turn 12 and 14. I could feel I was losing a bit of time.

"I probably used the tyres a bit earlier in the lap. I was fully going for it, for sure."

Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar matched a feat achieved by three of cycling's greatest competitors as he triumphed at the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday.

Pogacar cruised to a title defence at Le Tour in July and the 23-year-old clinched his second Classic crown of the season with success in the final Monument race of the year.

The Slovenian, making his Giro di Lombardia debut, is the first rider in 42 years to have won both the Tour de France and Giro di Lombardia in the same season.

He joins an illustrious list of riders to have done the double – Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.

UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar finished ahead of Fausto Masnada in the final sprint at the culmination of the 239km race from Como to Bergamo, with Adam Yates taking third place.

Pogacar previously won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race in April.

"I'm speechless, it's crazy to be here to celebrate this success at the end of a season like this," he said.

"Every victory is important to me, being at the start of Lombardia alongside the best cyclists in the world was a dream, and now winning on my debut was incredible."

Valtteri Bottas will focus on making the most of starting the Turkish Grand Prix from pole position, and not on the fortunes of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas just missed out on setting the fastest time in Istanbul on Saturday, with championship leader Hamilton claiming top spot.

However, Hamilton will start in 11th due to a penalty incurred from an engine change heading into the weekend, meaning Bottas is promoted to first on the grid.

Seven out of the eight winners in Turkey have come from the first grid line, with the only exception coming last year when Hamilton triumphed from sixth place.

Hamilton's title rival Max Verstappen will start in second place and has a real chance to regain the championship lead, as he trails by only two points as it stands – the finest margin after 15 races of a season since 2006.

Asked where his priorities would sit heading into Sunday's race, Bottas said: "I'll focus on my own race tomorrow, I think that's the way to go when you're starting in front and try to keep up a good pace."

Of the session, the Finn, who is leaving Mercedes at the end of 2021, said: "It was good. Not easy conditions, especially Q1 was a bit on the edge with damp parts and still Q3, the first corner was a bit damp but also Turn 3 and 4. But also some good laps.

"As a team result, that's really gone to plan. Lewis with his penalty gets the minimum penalty he can, and I'm on pole, so that should be good."

Hamilton is anticipating a tough ask to challenge for a podium place.

"It was a really tricky session in general," Hamilton said.

"There were still some damp patches and getting the temperature in the tyres for the first lap wasn't easy, but a really great job by the team, so happy with the performance in terms of getting us out at the right time. Tomorrow's going to be difficult but I'll give it everything."

Hamilton claimed his 100th race win last time out in Russia, and he added: "It's not the easiest overtaking at the moment, and we're all on the same tyres as well. I imagine tomorrow's going to be difficult to move up. You saw in the last race what happened with Max once he got behind sixth place or something and vice versa for me also.

"We've got the long straight down the back, we'll see what we can do, hopefully we can give the fans here a good race."

Despite spinning off the track at one stage in the session, Charles Leclerc recovered to take P4, and the Ferrari driver will start in third place behind Verstappen, who was pleased with his performance after a difficult Friday practice.

"It was quite tricky at the beginning with the conditions, but compared to yesterday we actually managed to turn it around quite well," said Verstappen. He is hunting his eighth win of the season, which would also see him equal Nigel Mansell as the driver with the second most victories with a Honda engine (13), behind the late Ayrton Senna (32).

"The laps overall were quite good, even if we lost a bit down the straight on the last, we have to look into that, but of course it was not the lap I needed to fight for pole," Verstappen added.

"Overall I'm very happy. We'll try to pick up as many points as we can."

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:22:868 *
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0:130
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0:328
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0:397
5. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0:458
6. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +0:609
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0:838
8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1:086
9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) +1:437
10. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) +1:500

*Hamilton will serve 10-place grid penalty

So far, so good, Dak Prescott. At least from a personal perspective, though, it was a similar story through four weeks in 2020.

The Dallas Cowboys quarterback set a record-breaking pace last year, his 1,690 passing yards comfortably the most by any player over the first four weeks of a season since 1960. In fact, in at least the past 40 years, no QB can match that total across any four-game span.

Going back to 1960, only Jameis Winston had previously thrown for 450 yards in consecutive games. Prescott became the first to do so in three in a row against the Atlanta Falcons (450), the Seattle Seahawks (472, a career high) and the Cleveland Browns (502, another career high) in Weeks 2, 3 and 4.

Yet the Cowboys were only 1-3, and when Prescott went down for the year against the New York Giants in Week 5, any hopes of recovering their season were dashed. Dallas went from averaging a league-leading 509.5 total net yards and third-ranked 31.5 points per game through Week 4 to 325.9 yards and 22.5 points over the rest of the year — ranking joint-21st and 25th.

In 2021, however, they are 3-1 heading into another Week 5 matchup with the Giants, despite having played three other 3-1 teams. And although Prescott has again been outstanding, this year's Cowboys do not look quite so fragile.

'The best I've ever played'

Of course, Dallas' excellent start begins with the man under center. Prescott is back this season having finally signed a four-year, $160million extension, and he is quickly proving worth that investment.

Although his 1,066 yards pale next to last year's early efforts, the 28-year-old has thrown 10 touchdown passes, up on 2020's nine and the second-most ever at this stage of a season by a Cowboys QB, behind Tony Romo's 11 in 2007. Only Don Meredith (twice — in 1966 and 1968) has bettered Prescott's 116.9 passer rating to this point.

After three TDs and no interceptions in the Week 3 win against the Philadelphia Eagles, Prescott said he had gained "a different perspective" from his spell on the sidelines. "I feel like I'm playing the best I've ever played," he added. He then had four TDs and no interceptions versus the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.

Prescott is undoubtedly excelling — he has delivered a well-thrown, accurate ball with 84.7 per cent of his passes this year, third among QBs with 100 or more attempts — but he is also getting help. In the Panthers game, he did not take a single sack. His seven for the year are fewer than 21 other QBs through four weeks.

Indeed, the Dallas number four said coming into the season offensive linemen Zack Martin, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, who all missed at least large chunks of 2020 through injury, were "the most important" members of the offense.

Of the 32 pressures Prescott has faced this season, 20 came in the opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Martin was on the COVID list. He has won 57 of 58 pass protection attempts, allowing only a single hurry. Smith has won 90 of 93 attempts, giving up a sole adjusted sack. The Cowboys still have the suspended Collins to come back in.

Even when Prescott is pressured, he is performing well, getting the ball out quickly and accurately, his 2.84-second release time the fourth-fastest under duress (minimum 10 attempts) and his 81.3 well-thrown percentage the fourth-best.

Having top-level talents to give the ball to makes the job easier, though.

Sharing the ball around

Prescott completed at least 80 per cent of his passes in consecutive weeks against the Los Angeles Chargers (85.2) and the Eagles (80.8), while the Cowboys also put up more than 150 rushing yards in both matchups (198 and 160). The 1984 San Francisco 49ers, led by Joe Montana, had been the last team to achieve that feat in back-to-back games.

That statistic speaks to the threat Dallas pose on offense this year.

Through the air, Prescott has had three outstanding weapons to target at the start of this season. Wide receivers Amari Cooper (22) and CeeDee Lamb (20) and tight end Dalton Schultz (20) have each made at least 20 catches, making the Cowboys the only team to have three players reach this mark through four weeks in 2021.

In just Lamb's second season in the league, he and Cooper have already established themselves as one of football's premier wide receiver duos — they are one of seven pairs of team-mates to each have 250 receiving yards at the position through Week 4 (258 for Cooper, 264 for Lamb).

Against the Panthers, when Lamb was limited to just two catches, four other Cowboys caught TD passes — among them breakout star Schultz, who has three scores in four games after four in his first three years in the league.

Two of those prior four TDs came in the first four games of 2020, though, with Prescott targeting Schultz with 28 passes, leading to a career-high four-game span of 219 receiving yards. Of those, 105 yards came after the catch, showing his power as he ranked fifth at TE in the NFL. So far this year, his 131 yards after the catch trail only Travis Kelce and George Kittle — good company to be keeping.

Crucially, however, Dallas also have multiple options on the ground. Ezekiel Elliott looks back to his best and is boosted by having Tony Pollard emerge as an effective alternative.

"We've got some younger guys who can play and produce, so it's not necessary for Zeke to run the ball 25, 30 times a game," head coach Mike McCarthy said in July. "When you get to December, January football, you want him to be in top form to be able to run the ball 25, 30 times if needed."

Elliott is certainly being used more efficiently; his 342 rushing yards fall well short of the Week 4 marks set in 2016 (412) and 2018 (426), but only in the latter year (5.84) has he averaged more yards per carry than this year's 5.34. The 26-year-old's four rushing scores are his most at this stage of a season. He still played a key role against Carolina, with 143 rushing yards his most in a game since 2018.

The Cowboys are difficult to stop, with Pollard (4.29) and Elliott (4.00) ranking third and fourth among running backs for yards per carry on plays where run disruption occurs and defenders get the better of the O-line. It is easy to see why Dallas are now running the ball on 47.0 per cent of plays, fifth-most in the league, easing the burden on Prescott.

Young defense delivering

This outstanding offensive production would all count for little if the Cowboys were not also showing improvement on the defensive end. The reasons for their 1-3 start in 2020 were the 430.5 total net yards (third-most) and league-high 36.5 points allowed per game.

Happily, with Prescott returning and faith in the offensive options, the Cowboys were able to focus almost solely on defense in the draft. Their first six picks, including 12th overall selection Micah Parsons, were on that side of the ball.

Linebacker Parsons has quickly established himself, leading the team with 2.5 sacks and 32 sack yards while registering 13 pressures on 46 pass rush attempts — a strong 28.3 per cent. At defensive tackle, third-round pick Osa Odighizuwa has been similarly impressive, pressuring at a 21.4 per cent rate and registering an adjusted sack on 7.1 per cent of plays when lined up on the interior. With Jaylon Smith released, fourth-rounder Jabril Cox could also now get an opportunity.

The undoubted star of the season so far, however, is second-year cornerback Trevon Diggs. Dallas have registered 10 total takeaways, only behind the Buffalo Bills, and Diggs' five interceptions — at least one in each game, including a pick-six against the Eagles — account for half of them. Since 1960, only three players have had more interceptions heading into Week 5; since 1980, just two have had a longer streak of games with picks to start a season.

As a team, the Cowboys had 10 interceptions in the whole of 2020, with Diggs, then a rookie, contributing three.

The Cowboys have now given up 24.3 points per game, tied for 16th in the league, but they have allowed just six points — from two field goals — in the fourth quarter of one-score games, giving Prescott every opportunity to win the game.

Unlike the QB, the key men in the defensive unit are largely too young to have worked with former Cowboys coach and current Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, but on the evidence of this season so far they will relish making life hell for his man Daniel Jones on Sunday.

In their last game against weak NFC East rivals until a kind end to the schedule starting in Week 14, the Cowboys will look to lay down a marker, extending this strong start and encouraging hopes they can be a genuine contender this year. Getting Jones off the field and allowing Prescott, Elliott and Co to get to work should ensure they do that.

US Open champion Emma Raducanu is refusing to be downcast after her defeat to Aliaksandra Sasnovich, insisting that she is focused on "the bigger picture".

The 18-year-old's 10-match winning run came to an abrupt halt at the Indian Wells Open – just her fifth tour-level event – as Sasnovich won in straight sets.

Sasnovich is ranked 100th in the world, but the 27-year-old has 16 career victories over opponents in the top 20, with Raducanu ranking 17th, and six over those in the top 10.

Raducanu cites the experience gap between herself and Sasnovich as a major factor in her defeat and believes that the loss can be taken as a positive lesson.

"I'm still very, very new to the tour," Raducanu said. "I think that experience just comes from playing week in, week out and experiencing all these different things. I'm kind of glad that what happened today happened, so I can learn and take it as a lesson so going forward I'll just have more experienced banked.

"[Sasnovich's] been on tour, probably been 4-2 down like hundreds of times whereas I've been 4-2 up... it's my third WTA tournament this year. [Experience] will come in time. Just got to not rush it and keep going and get my head back to the drawing board really.

"I didn't go in there putting any pressure on myself because in my mind I'm so inexperienced that I'm just taking it all in. You're going to have highs, and you're always going to have some lows where you're disappointed with how you performed.

"Aliaksandra played an extremely great match. You could tell she's more experienced than me. She went out there and executed her game plan better than I did. She deserved to win that.

"I think it's going to take me time to adjust, really, to what's going on. For the bigger picture, I'll be thanking this moment. That's the lesson I think, that you can easily get sucked into being so focused on the result and getting disappointed."

Raducanu is set to take part at the Transylvania Open that starts on October 25, as well as the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

The Buffalo Bills' 2020 season came to an end as their defense was gashed by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. After an offseason seemingly geared towards preventing that from happening again, in Week 5 they will get the clearest indication yet of whether their moves were the right ones.

Buffalo and Kansas City will renew acquaintances on Sunday for the first time since the Chiefs crushed the Bills 38-24 in the AFC Championship Game.

Kansas City put together a typically prolific offensive performance, Mahomes averaging 8.55 yards per pass attempt as he racked up 325 yards and threw for three touchdowns in a game that was not much of a contest after the Chiefs responded to falling 9-0 behind early by scoring 21 unanswered points.

The Bills pressured Mahomes 12 times, having tallied 33 across the first two rounds of last season's playoffs, and sacked him only once.

That anaemic pass-rush display prompted Buffalo to spend major draft capital on the defensive front this year.

Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau was selected with the Bills' first-round pick, and they followed that up by adding Carlos Basham from Wake Forest to their defensive line in the second.

Those additions have not seen the Bills leap to the top of charts when it comes to total pressures – their tally of 60 is 22nd in the NFL – however, they are doing a significantly better job of getting to the quarterback.

Buffalo's 11 sacks for negative yardage is a total bettered by only six teams so far this year, with Rousseau registering two sacks in an encouraging start to his career despite having a year away from competitive football after his college career effectively ended in 2019 due to his decision to opt out in 2020.

With Buffalo excelling in preventing opponents from getting going on the ground and through the air, the Bills are first in the NFL in opponent yards per play allowed with an impressive average of 4.00, while their 11 takeaways are also a league high.

The issue is that the Bills haven't faced an opponent close to the calibre of Mahomes and the Chiefs, who lead the league in yards per play. Of the four teams they have played this year in a 3-1 start, only the Washington Football Team (eighth) rank in the top half of the league in yards per play. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins are all in the bottom seven.

Similarly, none of the four quarterbacks the Bills' defense has gone against is above the league average for signal-callers with at least 10 attempts in well-thrown percentage (78.5). Mahomes is third in the NFL in that metric, delivering an accurate, well-thrown ball 84.8 per cent of the time and performing at the kind of level that saw him named MVP in the 2018 season.

When a quarterback of Mahomes' physical gifts is displaying that kind of accuracy, he can be near-impossible to stop. If the Bills cannot do it this time, then Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen and Mahomes would likely end up in another shootout expected to tilt in the direction of the Chiefs star.

Early signs against inferior opposition have been encouraging, but Sunday's primetime duel at Arrowhead Stadium will provide a true picture of whether the Bills' defensive improvement is for real.

No franchise wants to rebuild. Tanking your immediate hopes of success to collect assets that can eventually propel the team back to the top can be a miserable experience. However, the Miami Dolphins attacked rebuilding with remarkable zeal and have endured relatively little pain as they have constructed their roster on a new foundation.

Brian Flores oversaw a 5-11 season not short on reasons for encouragement in 2019 even amid a fire sale that saw the likes of Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick sent off to pastures new in exchange for major draft capital. Last season, the Dolphins finished 10-6 and narrowly missed the playoffs, raising hopes that their project would imminently yield dividends.

As such, this season was always likely to be seen as a measuring stick for the franchise, with Flores entering his third year as head coach and the man they picked to be the quarterback of the future faced with a make-or-break campaign, the Dolphins entered 2021 with expectations with which they are unfamiliar.

And, following a 1-3 start, with a franchise quarterback at least temporarily on the shelf and the defending champions coming to town to potentially put Miami in a deeper hole, tough questions will start to be asked about the direction of the organisation.

Few teams recover from a 1-4 start to reach the postseason. There is the unlikely possibility the Dolphins could upset the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but the more plausible scenario is a fourth successive defeat that would beg the question: is Miami's rebuild a failure?

Defense developing, but results declining

The biggest feather in the cap of this Dolphins' regime has been the play of Miami's defense, which last season led the NFL in takeaways with 29.

Yet those turnovers masked the fact that the Dolphins' defense was one teams generally had success moving the ball against. Indeed, Miami ranked 24th in opponent yards per play allowed in 2020, giving up an average of 5.90.

The Dolphins have improved in that regard so far this season, sitting 13th with 5.51 yards per play allowed, but are 23rd in offensive points allowed despite generating six turnovers through four games.

Miami's defense is one that appears to have grown more efficient when it comes to stopping the progress of offenses on a per-play basis and still takes the ball away but is not keeping offenses from putting up points.

Why is that the case? Put simply, they are on the field too long because of the failures of an offense that is not living up to the amount the Dolphins have invested.

A lack of possession

Miami's offense ranks 30th in average time of possession, having control of the ball for just 26 minutes and eight seconds. Their defense, as a result, has been on the field for an average of 33 minutes and 52 seconds. Only the defenses of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks have had to exercise greater endurance this season.

And the offense has shown little in the way of efficiency when on the field.

The Dolphins rank last in yards per play with an average of just 4.05. The New York Jets (5) are the sole team to have scored fewer offensive touchdowns than the Dolphins' six while only 10 of Miami's 42 offensive drives have ended in points.

That level of offensive ineptitude is unacceptable for a team looking to compete, and much of the blame can be pinned on an offensive line where the Dolphins have spent a large portion of their resources.

Despite having a first-round pick and two second-rounders starting up front, the Dolphins have allowed 80 pressures through four games, the seventh-most in the NFL.

It is difficult for a quarterback to succeed when under duress that consistently but, if the Dolphins continue to struggle, an apparent misevaluation of the class of signal-callers in the 2020 draft will come under even greater scrutiny.

Tua a costly mistake?

The elephant in the room is quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, whom the Dolphins selected fifth overall in the 2020 draft despite his career with Alabama being ended by a dislocated hip.

Miami backed Tagovailoa to eventually put that injury behind him and develop into the NFL star many expected him to become. Yet he failed to prove a superior option to Ryan Fitzpatrick in his rookie year and, rather than taking season-two strides, seemed to be regressing before a rib injury suffered in the Week 2 loss to the Buffalo Bills saw him placed on injured reserve.

In the small sample size of 30 attempts this season, Tagovailoa has delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball a league-low 63.3 per cent of the time. Only two quarterbacks, rookies Zach Wilson and Davis Mills, have a worse pickable pass rate than Tagovailoa's 6.67 per cent.

Tagovailoa was long since pencilled in as the player the Dolphins' grand rebuild was going to be constructed around. Now reduced to the role of spectator for the time being and struggling to live up to his draft status, going with him over reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert looks like a serious misstep.

It is not the only premium pick Miami made from that class whose selection is in question. Left tackle Austin Jackson's inability to make the leap to the highest level effectively is a key reason for the offensive line struggles — he has won under 70 per cent of his pass-blocking matchups in 2021 — and their third first-round choice from 2020, cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, has not played a single defensive snap in 2021.

Any judgement on this year's crop would be a premature one but, although there have been some encouraging signs from first-round picks Jaylen Waddle and Jaelan Phillips, the former is being limited by the struggles of the offense, recording a big play on an underwhelming 16 per cent of his targets, and pass rusher Phillips has won only 12 of his 43 rushes this season.

The mediocre starts of Waddle and Phillips are a long way down the list of concerns for the Dolphins, however, and they will not be the primary causes should Miami's poor start lead to a year of unmatched expectations.

Miami's rebuild rested on whom the Dolphins selected to be their quarterback and their fortunes in protecting him. The decisions they made in each of those areas have to this point largely backfired, leaving them with an offense that looks ill-equipped to compete this Sunday with a Buccaneers attack that could hardly be in a better position in the trenches and under center.

There is, of course, time for Miami to right the ship this year and the Dolphins — through their pre-2021 draft trade with the San Francisco 49ers — have more capital with which to improve weaknesses on their roster in the coming years.

But persistent talk of the Dolphins using those resources to strike a deal for quarterback Deshaun Watson is not a sign of a successful rebuild or faith in Tagovailoa to turn things around.

It's becoming increasingly clear the Dolphins bet on the wrong horse at quarterback last year and may have failed to properly evaluate prospects at several other positions. Opportunities for any regime to get the chance to select a second quarterback are rare but, regardless of how the Dolphins try to rescue their best-laid plans to return to prominence, the franchise's future gambles must be more astute.

Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis says the language used by head coach Jon Gruden in an email 10 years ago is "disturbing" amid allegations it was racist.

Davis, who at the time was a lead analyst for ESPN, wrote to the Washington Football Team's president in July 2011 where he said NFL Players' Association executive director DeMaurice Smith had "lips the size of michellin tires" according to The Journal.

Gruden claimed he did not recall the email, while NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy labelled the language as "appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL's values".

The Raiders owner called it "disturbing" and said they were reviewing the matter, suggesting possible disciplinary action.

“The content of an email regarding DeMaurice Smith from Jon Gruden when he worked for ESPN 10 years ago is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for," Davis said in a statement.

"We were first made aware of the email late yesterday by a reporter and are reviewing it along with other materials provided to us today by the NFL.

"We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time."

Gruden claimed that the remark was not intended to be racial, insisting it related to the term "rubber lips" for someone who lies a lot and that he was embarrassed by the situation.

"I'm ashamed I insulted De Smith," Gruden told ESPN. "I never had a racial thought when I used it.

"I'm embarrassed by what's out there. I certainly never meant for it to sound that bad."

US Open champion Emma Raducanu was sensationally beaten in her first match following her Flushing Meadows triumph, going down in straight sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Indian Wells Open on Friday.

The Belarussian, who is currently ranked 100th, stunned the 19-year-old Briton 6-2 6-4 in one hour and 25 minutes.

Raducanu had been on a 10-match winning streak coming into her maiden Indian Wells campaign.

"I'm still so new to everything. The experiences that I'm going through right now, even though I might not feel 100 per cent amazing right now, I know they're for the greater good," Raducanu said after the defeat.

"I mean, I'm 18 years old. I need to cut myself some slack."

Raducanu, who did not drop a set during her US Open run, appeared in control early after winning the opening six points, but Sasnovich claimed the first break in the third game.

Unforced errors proved costly for Raducanu as the clean-striking Sasnovich capitalized to win the first set, before opening the second set with another break.

Raducanu responded with an immediate break back and led 4-2 in the second set, before the Belarussian hit back by winning the next four games to topple the British teenager.

"It was a really good match for me. I play really well," Sasnovich said. "I know she just won US Open. I lost there in the first round. But I tried to go on court, I tried to enjoy. I did everything right."

 

FORMER WINNER HALEP PROGRESSES

Sasnovich will face two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep in the third round after the Romanian defeated Marta Kostyuk 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 in one hour and 33 minutes.

The 11th seed, who split with long-time coach Darren Cahill last month amid an injury-disrupted year, was down a break early before working her way back and dominating the tiebreak.

Halep broke twice in a more controlled second set to claim victory in her 10th appearance at Indian Wells.

"I missed a lot playing tennis at this level this year because I've been injured and many months, I couldn't play matches," said Halep, who won at Indian Wells in 2015. "I came here a little more aggressive than normal and I'm trying to improve my game and myself."

 

KVITOVA CRUISES AS TOP SEEDS WIN

Two-time major winner Petra Kvitova eased into the last 32 with a 6-2 6-2 triumph over Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands.

Seventh seed Kvitova set up a showdown with two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka after she beat Magda Linette 7-5 3-0 in a walkover. Kvitova leads Azarenka 5-3 in head-to-head battles.

Second seed Iga Swiatek dominated Croatian Petra Martic 6-1 6-3 to seal her passage into the third round, while fourth seed Elina Svitolina got past Teresa Martincova 6-2 7-5.

Beaten 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez triumphed over experienced Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-2 6-3 and will play ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round after she easily accounted for Madison Keys 6-3 6-1.

Three-time major winner Andy Murray marked his return to the Indian Wells Masters with a strong 6-3 6-2 win over dangerous Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in Friday's first-round encounter.

Murray, who had not played at Indian Wells in four years, won in one hour and 24 minutes with a disciplined display, winning 82 per cent of first serve points.

The Briton, who only faced one break point for the match, will next take on Spanish 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who enjoyed a fine run to the US Open quarter-finals in September.

"I think Alcaraz is really, really good," Murray said after the win. "I think he’s got a good chance at it."

On his own performance, Murray added: "I thought my mentality was good tonight. I sort of focused just on every single point.

"It's been a tough road to get back and it was so nice that so many people managed to come out and support today. I really enjoyed it."

BROOKSBY SETS UP ZVEREV DATE

Emerging American Jenson Brooksby triumphed over Cem Ilkel 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to book his spot in the second round where he will face third seed Alexander Zverev.

The 20-year-old world number 79, who was the runner-up at the Hall of Fame Open in July, prevailed in his Indian Wells debut in one hour and 44 minutes.

Brooksby dropped only four points on his serve, with Ilkel unable to generate a break point throughout the match.

The California native has been a break-out star in the latter half of 2021, reaching the fourth round at the US Open, entering the top 100 after starting the year ranked 307th.

 

SOCK PUT AWAY BY AUSTRALIAN

Former top 10 player Jack Sock was bundled out by Australian John Millman 7-5 4-6 6-3 in an epic first-round clash which lasted two and a half hours.

Sock, who has battled injuries in recent times and was handed a wild card for Indian Wells, pushed Millman all the way, with the Australian breaking to lead 5-3 in the third set before serving out for victory.

World number 61 Pedro Martinez made light work of Italian qualifier Roberto Marcora 6-4 6-0 to set up a second-round meeting with second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 24-year-old Spaniard triumphed in one hour and 15 minutes.

Former Wimbledon and US Open finalist Kevin Anderson sent down 10 aces in a 7-5 6-2 win over Jordan Thompson.

The San Francisco Giants shut out the prolific Los Angeles Dodgers led by Logan Webb as they secured a 4-0 win and a 1-0 lead in the National League Division Series on Friday.

The Dodgers, who were shut out just five times in the regular season, could not convert any of their five hits on Friday, while the Giants delivered three home runs.

Seven-time All-Star Buster Posey got the Giants on the board with a two-run blast in the first inning from Walker Buehler, who allowed six hits across six-and-one-third innings.

Buehler still managed five strikeouts on the mound for the Dodgers but he was over-shadowed by Giants right-hander Webb, who tossed down 10 Ks across seven-and-two-thirds scoreless innings.

Kris Bryant, who had three hits to mark an outstanding game, padded the Giants' lead in the seventh inning with a left-field home run from a tiring Buehler.

Brandon Crawford, who had 24 home runs across the regular season added, another in the eighth inning, recording his second career post-season homer to add insurance.

 

Astros launch into 2-0 lead

The Houston Astros produced a five-run rally in the seventh inning to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Chicago White Sox with a 9-4 victory.

But the Astros had to come from behind, trailing 4-2 after Luis Robert, who had two runs, three hits and one RBI for the game, touched down at the top of the fifth inning.

Jose Altuve, who had a great defensive game in the field, and Alex Bregman levelled it from a Yuli Gurriel base hit, before the five-run rally in the seventh underlined by Kyle Tucker's two-run shot.

With two out and two on leading 5-4, Carlos Correa's powerful shot to right-field eluded Leury Garcia, driving in two runs before Tucker padded the advantage.

 

Sale loses his puff

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale endured a nightmare first inning, allowing four hits and five earned runs as the Tampa Bay Rays opened up an early 5-2 lead. Sale was pulled after that before the Red Sox launched an admirable fightback in a run-fest 14-6 victory over the Rays to square up their ALDS. Tanner Houck steadied on the mound, with five strikeouts across five innings allowing only one run and two hits.

 

 

Burnes still on fire

Corbin Burnes continued his excellent regular season form in the Milwaukee Brewers' opening game of their NLDS with six scoreless innings and six strikeouts in a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. Burnes, who finished the regular season with an MLB-best 2.43 ERA, set up the victory before Josh Hader closed it out, with Rowdy Tellez scoring a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

 

Saturday's results

Houston Astros 9-4 Chicago White Sox
Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox 14-6 Tampa Bay Rays
San Francisco Giants 4-0 Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Dodgers at Giants

The Dodgers will look to bounce back in Game 2 against the Giants, with Julio Urias and Kevin Gausman starting on the mound for the respective sides.

Im Sung-jae and Chad Ramey hit rounds of six-under 65 to move into the lead by one shot from last week's Sanderson Farms Championship winner Sam Burns at the halfway point at the Shriners Children's Open.

Day one leader Kang Sung-hoon had a forgettable second round, carding a two-over 73 to slip six shots off the pace at the TPC at Summerlin in Nevada on Friday.

Countryman Im, currently ranked 29th in the world, carded six birdies across his round, including finishing off a birdie on the par-five ninth. Im's bogey-free first two rounds mark the best opening 36-hole score in his PGA Tour career.

American Ramey, who is making only his fifth start in his PGA Tour career, had seven birdies along with a bogey on the first, with the pair level on 14 under after two days.

Burns looms one stroke behind the joint leaders on 13 under, with the 18th-ranked American backing up his opening round of 66, with an eight-under 63.

“What we tried to do is just last week is last week,” Burns told reporters following last week's triumph in Mississippi.

"This week is Shriners and preparing for this week, trying to make sure Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday that we are giving ourselves the best opportunity to play well this week. Obviously, incredible honoured that I won last week and such a fun time, but just trying to kind of leave that there.”

The 25-year-old carded five birdies on his back nine, including a 132-yard wedge which landed within three feet for birdie on the sixth hole.

Burns is joined by Adam Schenk after he carded a six-under 65, with Aaron Wise a stroke behind the duo at 12 under at the halfway mark.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka remains in contention after a four-under 67, leaving him seven under.

Ryder Cup debutant Scottie Scheffler and Patrick Reed were among those to miss the cut, while Rickie Fowler along with last week's Sanderson Farms Championship contenders Cameron Burns and Sahith Theegala all missed the cut by a stroke.

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry has praised LeBron James for his longevity and pushing him to sustain his prime for as long as he can.

Curry and James are set to face off on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season when the Golden State Warriors meet the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.

Four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion James enters his 18th NBA season with the Lakers among the favourites for the title.

Despite being 36-years-old, James remains a key part for the Lakers, who won the NBA in 2020, before bowing out in the first round of the 2021 play-offs.

Curry praised 17-time All-Star James for maintaining his high levels throughout an extended period, when the pair have arguably been the league's best players.

"He set the standard for that," Curry told reporters on Friday. "Let's keep it real – in his 18th year, nine straight Finals, all the things that he's accomplished.

"You have a vision of sustaining your prime for as long as you can, kind of re-imagining what that looks like. The work that goes into it, the intentionality, especially in the off-seasons, especially how you take care of your body, your mind. Balance on court, off court."

The Lakers forward had an injury-interrupted 2020-21 season, averaging 25.0 points,7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game, having boasted a career-best 10.2 assists per game in the side's title-winning 2019-20 season. He has averaged 25.0 points per game or more since his debut season in 2003-04 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James is four years Curry's senior, with the 2003 NBA Draft first pick having claimed one more NBA title across his career than the Warriors point guard who debuted in 2009.

"For me, it's a weird perspective just because I still remember my college days and he was just coming into his prime in the league," Curry said.

"And my sophomore year, [NCAA] tournament run he came to a game, then came to a game my junior year. I still have a jersey that he signed back in '08 in my parents' house back in Charlotte. So it's kind of weird to think about what's happened in the last 13, 14 years.

"Hopefully there's more chapters of that, playing at that prime. Re-imagining and extending your prime and playing at a high level for a long time looks like."

Curry, who only played five games in the 2019-20 season due to injury, topped the NBA last season for points per game, at 32.0.

The 33-year-old's 32.0 points per game was a career-best return, while he also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

"I love exactly where I'm at," Curry said ahead of the new season. "I'm planning to be ready for opening night.

"Body feels good, mind feels good, shot feels strong. I'm not pacing myself but I'm being smart about how I approach preseason games."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has welcomed reports that Kyrie Irving will be permitted to train at the franchise's facilities despite being unvaccinated and unable to play home games.

Irving will still not be available for home games at the Barclays Center in the 2021-22 NBA season, which starts for the Nets on Tuesday 19 October against the Milwaukee Bucks, under New York's COVID-19 vaccination laws.

The Nets point guard has not been able to join Nets practice this week but according to reports the franchise's HSS Training Center has now been deemed a private office building, enabling him to train there despite his unvaccinated status.

"It’s positive to be able to welcome him back into the building and have him be part of the team," Nash told reporters on Friday.

"I don’t want to comment too much on it firmly until I know what the parameters are but it sounds like it’s positive news."

Nash admitted Irving would need to catch up after his interrupted pre-season but was bullish he would be able to maintain a level of game fitness throughout the season.

"When someone's able to resume full activity on the court they'd still need to meet a level of high intensity, before you'd put them in a game," he said.

"Even if you're not injured, you still have to reach those thresholds. If you are injured, once you are healthy, you have to meet those thresholds as well."

Russell Wilson's run of 149 straight starts is set to come to an end due to a hand injury that is expected to rule the Seattle Seahawks quarterback out for at least a month.

The 32-year-old injured his finger on his throwing hand in Thursday's defeat to the Los Angeles Rams and flew to Los Angeles on Friday to see a hand specialist.

Wilson's 10-year run of starts is the sixth longest by any quarterback in NFL history, and the longest of any active quarterback, but he is now facing a spell on the sidelines.

According to reports, the injury will require surgery and Wilson could be out for as long as eight weeks.

Providing an update earlier on Friday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said: "He's getting looked at by an expert.

"I don't know much more than last night. We've just got to wait and see what they assess.

"We'll know a lot more by the end of the day… But there's something going on.

"There's definitely something going on and we've got to figure out what the extent of it is, and what is the next step to deal with it."

Carroll will now turn to Geno Smith, who last started a game in 2017, against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Smith led two scoring drives after replacing Wilson against the Rams and Carroll has full belief in the backup quarterback.

"I thought Geno did a marvellous job last night," Carroll said. "Geno has been practicing with us for all this time waiting for his opportunity if called upon. 

"The patience that he's shown with us to stay with it, and his relationship with Russ and the coaches, he's been impeccable.

"He's a very talented football player. He's got a great arm, he's got great sense, and he knows the system really well. I totally trust that Geno can do this."

Tyson Fury has vowed to "obliterate" Deontay Wilder when he puts his WBC world heavyweight title on the line in Saturday's trilogy fight at the T-Mobile Arena.

The 33-year-old looked in tremendous condition at Friday's weigh-in as he tipped the scales at 277 pounds — four pounds heavier than he was in his most recent meeting with Wilder 20 months ago.

Wilder is also at a career-high weight of 238, an increase of seven pounds, but Fury does not believe he will have any problems stopping his American opponent for a second time in a row.

Asked what the advantage is of coming in heavier this time around, Fury said: "It means total obliteration of a dosser! Total annihilation. That is what it means to me.

"Two-hunded-and-seventy-seven pounds... I am going to put him in the royal infirmary after the fight."

The 39-pound difference between the two is the closest across their three fights. 

"I wanted to look tasty and feel sexy," Wilder said of his physique. "I am bench pressing over 350 so I will be able to lift him. We just wanted to have fun in camp, we had a great time. The say you practice for perfect, we practiced for permanent.

"Calmness is the key to the storm. I know when I am not calm my mind is cloudy, when my mind is cloudy it allows you to make bad decisions. 

"When you are calm you are able to make great decisions. I have rejuvenated myself, redemption is upon us and I can't wait to show the world what I am all about." 

This will be the third chapter in a heavyweight rivalry that has produced plenty of drama in the past, both in and out of the ring.

After a contentious split-decision draw in the first meeting back in December 2018, the rematch saw Fury take the judges out of the equation with a dominant performance, forcing a seventh-round stoppage that not only saw Wilder lose the WBC title but also his unbeaten record as a pro.

The trilogy was not seemingly on the cards — or at least not this soon — until the outcome of an arbitration hearing, a judge ruling the reigning champion was contractually obliged to face his former foe again, ending the possibility of a unification showdown with Anthony Joshua.

Fury contracting COVID-19 led to a further delay, scuppering an original July fight date, but, finally, the stage is set in Las Vegas for the pair to meet again.

For Wilder, this is an opportunity to rebuild his reputation. He hopes a new man in his corner can help: Malik Scott once lost to his fellow American in the ring, now he is tasked with formulating a plan to get his old foe back on top.

Scott has certainly talked the talk in the build-up, even predicting his fighter gets the job done inside five rounds after working hard to refine his game.

"He got content with knocking people out with one weapon, which was the right hand," Scott said. 

"What I did was I went to his toolbox and pulled everything out that he does well. Deontay Wilder can do it all. I just pulled a lot of stuff out of him in training camp. I made sure we drilled him with intent."

The development of Wilder, a power hitter whose boxing skills have always been questioned, is just one of the intriguing plot lines going into a contest that should make for absorbing viewing, whatever the final outcome.

 

TALE OF THE TAPE

TYSON FURY

Age: 33
Height: 6ft 9ins (206cm)
Weight: 277lbs
Reach: 85ins
Professional record: 30-0-1 (21 KOs)
Major career titles: IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO heavyweight

DEONTAY WILDER

Age: 35
Height: 6ft 7ins (201cm)
Weight: 238lbs
Reach: 83ins 
Professional record: 42-1-1 (41 KOs)
Major career titles: WBC heavyweight

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