TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

1 » Signing his rookie contract Thursday, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow got his first taste of practice with the Denver Broncos on Friday in front of some reporters. Things were different Sunday at the team’s first public training camp event, as 3,103 Broncos fans packed the Dove Valley facility (the most since it opened in 2003) to get a glimpse of the former Heisman Trophy winner (and the rest of the team). [Another 1,891 attended in the afternoon, setting both session records and a one-day total of 4,994.] The Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Center was “almost at full capacity with fans sitting shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the practice field.”

The Denver Post describes one notable moment: “During seven-on-seven drills, Tebow worked in the rotation to completed a 40-yard pass to Matthew Willis on a fly route. The crowd cheered and some stood to their feet, as if the season had already begun.” There were also chants of “Te-bow! Te-bow!” during portions of the practice. In fact, “Tebow received cheers for everything he did,” according to the Post. “For walking out of the locker room, handing the ball off or tossing a short screen pass. And especially for every time he tucked the ball under his arm and ran through the Broncos’ defense.”

Two Denver players – one a fellow Florida alum and another from Georgia – had their own thoughts on the festivities off the field.

“It’s darn near like Gainesville. It feels the same way,” former Gators defensive end/linebacker Jarvis Moss said. “I don’t know too many people who have fans like Tim. You can’t think of too many people who people just love like that.” Countering but still agreeing was a Bulldog. “You’ve got to think he’s the most marketable guy in the league right now so he’s definitely going to that attention. The only knock on him is he went to Florida,” cornerback Champ Bailey added.

Two BITS on Percy Harvin’s health and a fight started by Riley Cooper…
Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

Pouncey issues stronger denial of allegations

On July 21, former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey officially denied allegations that he took $100,000 from a runner for an agent between the 2009 Southeastern Conference Championship and 2010 Sugar Bowl, an accusation that was sent to the University of Florida by a letter postmarked in Canada in June.

“I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim. I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me,” Pouncey had said.

Still technically under investigation by by the NCAA and UF for a potential rules violation, he has done everything he can up until this point to cooperate and prove his innocence, including providing “phone, bank and credit card statements that do not show large payments,” ESPN‘s Joe Schad previously reported.

Now signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pouncey has once again denied the allegations – doing so this time in an even more specific and direct manner.

“It’s not true,” Pouncey told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I don’t know who would ever write a letter like that to try to distort somebody’s name. It’s not fair. It’s not true, everybody knows. [...] They went through a whole investigation and couldn’t find anything. It’s almost [over]. They couldn’t find anything. I am just happy that everybody said it wasn’t true. I am just happy everybody could just see it.”

He proclaims that, when choosing his agent, he did so according to regulations. “I did the player panel and everything,” he said. “When I picked my agent, I went through the school. They do it the right way. There is no fault there.”

Pouncey also described the range of emotions he went through when finding about the allegations. “I thought my brother was playing with me he first called me. I was actually [in Pittsburgh] when he first told me and I was like, ‘You have to be kidding me.’ I went to the school and kind of said, ‘You all better be behind me if it’s not true.’”

Harvin carted off field, Murphy concussed at camp

Going into their sophomore NFL training camps each as one of the most dynamic players on their respective teams, former Florida Gators wide receivers Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy both suffered health-related setbacks Saturday.

Harvin, the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, was carted off of the field during Minnesota Vikings practice according to reports out of the camp, while Murphy was held out of action with the Oakland Raiders with a concussion.

The extent of Harvin’s injury is not currently known, but many of his team’s coaches and players were unaware that it even occurred. This may speak to the severity of the injury being minor or simply the fact that no one saw exactly what happened.

UPDATE: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Harvin has returned to the field and is participating in Minnesota’s evening practice.

Murphy, on the other hand, suffered a concussion after getting kneed in the helmet by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah during camp on Friday. He complained of a bad headache and showcased some other symptoms, leading the training staff to decide that it was best to hold him out of workouts. Head coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press that Murphy will be sitting until he passes a series of tests.

OGGOA will keep you updated on the latest developments…

Browns, CB Joe Haden agree to five-year deal

With all of his former teammates already signed to rookie contracts, Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden finally agreed to a five-year, $50 million max deal with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, he will receive a $12 million signing bonus in 2010 and $26 million guaranteed on his deal, according to Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com.

“Joe is excited,” Haden’s agent, Malik Shareef, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “We’d like to thank the Browns for all their hard work on this.’ The Browns would like to have him on the field for the evening session, so hopefully we’ll get it signed and get him out there by then. I know Joe is ready to go.”

Haden’s contract was signed after the Browns’ first day of training camp Saturday, making him the only former Gators player to officially holdout. All are now under contract and ready to compete in their first NFL seasons.

OGGOA will continue updating this – and all of our Florida rookie contract stories – as further salary information is released.

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

Tim Tebow’s first day as a pro was…uneventful

Agreeing to a five-year, $11.25 million rookie contract with the Denver Broncos on Thursday, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow spent his first day as a professional by taking a physical, engaging in conditioning drills, sitting in meetings and speaking with reporters at the team’s Dove Valley facility on Friday – all of which he passed with flying colors.

According to The Denver Post, Tebow’s day went as follows: In the morning, he took a conditioning test that consisted of three 300-yard timed shuttle runs before joining meetings with other rookies and injured veterans. At 11 a.m., Tebow practiced for an hour, working on footwork and going through reads, before being dismissed until Sunday. However, he stayed at Dove Valley to go over what he missed from the playbook installations on Wednesday and Thursday.

And that is about all Tebow did, especially considering Broncos training camp does not officially get underway until Sunday. In regards to the questions he and head coach Josh McDaniels were asked? Nothing you have not heard before. Nevertheless, here are some of the more interesting quotes…which you can find after the break:

Continue Reading » Tim Tebow’s first day as a pro was…uneventful

FOUR BITS: Patriots, Donovan, Murphy, Bowden

1 » Though the New England Patriots three draft selections garnered the most attention from Florida Gators fans, the team actually added four University of Florida products in the offseason after signing former Gators defensive tackle and 10-year NFL veteran Gerard Warren. Warren, who is backing up Vince Wilfork, recounted to ESPN that new Patriots linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes, along with tight end Aaron Hernandez, were all doing the Gator Chomp during rookie camp on Thursday. “Hey man, it’s Gator Nation,” Warren said.

2 » Speaking with The Gainesville Sun early this week, Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan said he is “always concerned” about agents and their runners contacting his players. “The solution for it is the NCAA and the [NBA] players association are going to have to somehow get on the same level,” Donovan said. “Because we have more rules and restrictions against us as coaches in terms of communication and what we can do than the agents do.” He also touched on a number of other topics including the upcoming season. “I’m excited about our depth,” he said. “I think we’ll obviously have size now. I think we add a little depth with Scottie [Wilbekin] in the backcourt. But I’m anxious to work with this guys.”

3 » Former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy struggled to progress much during his first NFL season, mostly because the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback situation was unresolved the whole year. With former Auburn QB Jason Campbell now in the fold, Murphy thinks he is just what the team needed. “I see a lot of similarities between Jason Campbell and Tim Tebow,” Murphy said. “They’re both really driven.”

4 » No longer on the sidelines with the Florida State Seminoles, Hall of Fame head coach Bobby Bowden has been taking part in a number of speaking engagements. During one Friday in Elkhart, FL, Bowden said that he will not miss having to deal with Florida every year. “They’re pretty good, but I don’t worry about them anymore,” Bowden said. “They’re not my problem anymore.”

Photo Credit: John Biever/Sports Illustrated

Maurkice Pouncey inks rookie deal with Steelers

One of two former Florida Gators selected in the 2010 NFL Draft yet to sign with their team, center/guard Maurkice Pouncey agreed to a five-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday.

Pouncey, the No. 18 overall pick in the draft and 2009 Rimington Trophy winner, will earn $17.96 million over the life of his deal including $10.35 million in guaranteed money.

He is expected to start at right guard for the Steelers in 2010 before being transitioned to center in the future.

Pouncey joins fellow former Gators offensive lineman, left tackle Max Starks, on the team and helped Pittsburgh continue a streak of not having a rookie holdout since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

“Football is important to him,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of Pouncey to the Associated Press. “This is a guy who’s committed to winning but doing what it takes to be a winner. He’s always been associated with winning, and we like those kind of guys and putting them into the mix.”

Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, the draft’s No. 7 overall pick, is the only remaining Florida rookie yet to sign a professional contract.

OGGOA will update this story if further contract information is revealed.

WR Ike Hilliard signs with Giants, retires

Former Florida Gators star and 12-year NFL veteran wide receiver Ike Hilliard will retire from football Friday after signing a one-day contract with the New York Giants.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, Hilliard racked up 546 receptions for 6,397 yards and 35 touchdowns over his professional career while playing eight seasons for the Giants and four for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He last stepped on the NFL gridiron in 2008 and has since been working as a wide receivers coach with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL.

At Florida, Hilliard was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection and consensus first-team All-American in 1996, the year the Gators won their first National Championship. He was only at the University Florida for three seasons, declaring for the draft as a junior after collecting 126 receptions for 2,214 yards and 29 touchdowns.

His 2,214 career yards are good for seventh-most in team history, while his 29 career scores rank him second overall. Hilliard also holds the UF record for most receiving touchdowns in a single game (four vs. Tennessee in 1995).

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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