SIX NFL BITS: Tebow, Reed, Thompson, Andrews

By Adam Silverstein
June 3, 2013

1 » As part of a story on former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in the June issue of ESPN The Magazine, author David Fleming notes that members of the player’s “camp [are] privately admitting that his NFL run is probably over.” Shortly after the story was released online, members of Tebow’s “camp” began the damage control. “It’s not true,” a source told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Added his father Bob Tebow: “You are old enough to not believe all your hear.” Someone else in Tebow’s stable told USA Today’s Mike Garafolo, in the writer’s words, that “Tebow isn’t ready to give up, retire or look to head to the Canadian Football League or Arena Football League.” While these reports provide a different angle than Fleming portrayed, none actually refute what the source in Tebow’s camp told Fleming. Tebow may have every intention of continuing his NFL career but that does not mean those in his camp are forced to vehemently believe that he will actually wind up receiving another opportunity from a team.

2 » New Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed has not yet participated in a team practice, despite being under contract, and is unlikely to do so before training camp convenes in three weeks. Reed is still recovering from a left leg injury and feels the appendage is not strong enough yet to go full-speed on at this time. “[The trainer] has been helping me out a lot. I’m getting stronger, getting my muscle back. That’s all I really need to do: get my muscle back and I’ll be all set,” he told Comcast SportsNet. Reed explained that a thigh contusion he suffered at Florida led to a bone bruise in his knee, which is why he is currently missing practice time.”

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!

3 » Reed is not the only former Gators player joining the Redskins this offseason. Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon inked an undrafted free agent deal with the team after not being selected in the 2013 NFL Draft and feels like he fits in well with the team. “They actually called me during the draft and told me they had used their last pick, and they were surprised to see me still on the board at that point and they would pick me up after the draft was over,” Nixon explained to the Fayetteville Observer. “That pretty much made my decision right there. It’s just a great opportunity to get to display my talent and show people the kind of person I can be with the team and around the community.” The fact that Washington runs a zone-blocking scheme is an additional level of comfort for Nixon, who is used to playing that way over his last two seasons at Florida. “They’re just telling me that my athleticism, my foot speed and my agility all fits into the scheme,” he said after minicamp.

4 » Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell raved about former Gators wide receiver Deonte Thompson after organized team activities last week. One of two undrafted free agents to make Baltimore’s roster last season (quarterback John Brantley was also signed by the team but did not make the cut), Thompson only caught five passes for 51 yards in his rookie season but may be primed to be a bigger contributor this year as the Ravens undoubtedly need new blood to impact the passing game. “He’s a gifted route-runner, and he is getting better,” Caldwell told the Baltimore Sun. “He’s young and he’s developing. [Wide receivers] coach Jim Hostler is working with him, and certainly, getting him refined in all aspects of the game. He understands how to sink his hips. He can do a great job of changing direction. He has speed, can catch the ball, and he’s tough. I think that’s a pretty good blend. He’s a young guy, so we’ll see. If he keeps improving the way he’s going, I think he will be a fine player.”

5 » Fans of former Florida dazzler Erin Andrews will be in for a treat this season as Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reports that the second-year FOX Sports studio host and sideline reporter will see added duties during NFL games this fall. Andrews will likely be the sideline reporter during “a handful of NFL games” featuring Kevin Burkhardt on play-by-play and John Lynch as the color commentator. In addition to hosting FOX Sports’ college football studio show, Andrews worked the sidelines for select NFL and MLB games last season, usually during the playoffs. Her role with FOX Sports will only continue to expand as the brand is set to launch its first network, FOX Sports One, in August.

6 » Last week, I visited the Miami Dolphins’ organized team activities and got the opportunity to watch center Mike Pouncey and first-year players linebacker Jelani Jenkins, running back Mike Gillislee and kicker Caleb Sturgis all workout and practice with the team. After OTAs, I spoke with Jenkins and Gillislee about the formation of the Gator Nation in Miami. The players discussed how fortunate they are to be living together and on the same team with four total former Florida players. The duo also talked about learning a NFL playbook, and I explore their chances at contributing as rookies in this piece for InsidetheGators.com.

4 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    I believe Nixon was misquoted. It should have said “my lack of athleticism, my lack of foot speed and my lack of agility”. It also forgot to mention that he plans to false state at least once every offensive position, preferably on third and short in the red zone.

  2. Joe says:

    Ahh, Xavier is pretty athletic just not in a back-pedal on the edge of the line. He could be a solid guard, athletic on traps and pulls and such but he is no starting tackle in the NFL.

  3. Michael Jones says:

    Deonte’s emergence supports my position that the Gators receiving corps has gotten a little bit of a bum rap over the last few years. I think that they’ve been a lot more talented than they’ve been given credit for, and that coaching changes, scheme changes, and issues with the O-line and QB position have been just as much to blame. Even play calling as well as the lack of a power running game (pre-Gillislee) were factors.

    I expect Omarius Hines, for one, to have a decent NFL career.

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