Tebow’s TD caps week of rookie NFL debuts

With no time remaining in the game, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow rushed toward the endzone and would eventually score his first touchdown as a professional, though his team still fell 33-24 to the Cincinnati Bengals. Nevertheless, it was an exciting play to end a week in which many of the former Florida Gators selected in the 2010 NFL Draft were able to see the field in preseason action. Here is a short synopsis of how they fared in their respective professional debuts.

QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos
Passing: 8-of-13 for 105 yards (8.1 avg., 87.0 QB rating)
Rushing: Two carries for 10 yards, one touchdown

CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns
Defense: Three solo tackles, one pass defended
Kick returning: One attempt for 34 yards

G MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers
No statistics to record.

LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots
Defense: Did not play – concussion

DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals
Game 1: Did not play – concussion
Game 2: One tackle

LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots
Defense: Eight tackles (one solo) [team-high]

S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears
Defense: Seven tackles (six solo)

TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots
Receiving: Three receptions for 26 yards (long 21)
Rushing: One carry for six yards

WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles
Receiving: Three receptions for 61 yards (long 46) [team-high]

WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills
Receiving: Five receptions for 47 yards team-highs], one touchdown

KR BRANDON JAMES, Indianapolis Colts
Kick returning: Four attempts for 99 yards (avg. 24.8, long 28)
Punt returning: One attempt for five yards
Receiving: One reception for two yards

REPORT: Harvin returning to Vikings this week

Having not played for the Minnesota Vikings in over two weeks, former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin is expected to return to the team “as early as tonight,” according to a report from Len Pasquarelli.

The 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year has been out since his grandmother passed away both grieving and suffering from severe migraine headaches that have plagued him throughout his life. Sources close to the player told Pasquarelli that he will be back with the Vikings at some point this week.

Harvin was sent a “five-day letter” by Minnesota late last week giving him a handful of days to report to the team before risking suspension and/or fine.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Heat PF Haslem cited for marijuana possession

Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem was arrested Sunday afternoon in Miami-Dade County after police found more than 20 grams of marijuana in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop.

Haslem, who was pulled over because he was speeding, was in his vehicle with three other men, one of whom was also cited by the Florida Highway Patrol. Police noticed that his vehicle smelled of marijuana and had window tints that were darker than the legally allowed level.

According to the Associated Press:

Haslem, a former standout at the University of Florida, was freed from custody late Sunday night, about seven hours after a trooper pulled him over for driving 78 mph in a 60 mph zone on the Gratigny Parkway. Haslem’s 2008 Mercedes sedan was searched multiple times, and marijuana was eventually found in a blue nylon bag that the Heat player’s passenger, Antwain Fleming, said belonged to him.

“We are confident Udonis Haslem will be vindicated,” Haslem’s attorney Eric Schwartzreich said. “We have a situation where the passenger admits the marijuana was his and Mr. Haslem tells police nothing was in the vehicle. I think the police report speaks for itself. I am hopeful that Udonis Haslem will not be charged.”

Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a third-degree felony in the state of Florida; Haslem can receive a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, though a jail term is not likely.

Photo Credit: Gary Dineen/Getty Images

TWO BITS: Stamper’s chance, soccer begins

1 » Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Detroit Lions, former Florida Gators linebacker Ryan Stamper was forced to leave the team due to concerns about his injured back. After working out in Detroit on July 27, Stamper was expected to sign a contract with the Lions, but he left without a deal in place. On Saturday, Detroit middle linebacker Jordon Dizon suffered a likely season-ending knee injury, leaving an open spot on at least the practice roster that could very well be filled by Stamper.

2 » With their 2010 season set to begin on Friday at home against the Miami Hurricanes, No. 11 Florida soccer participated in an exhibition match Saturday, defeating Alabama-Birmingham 3-0. Senior defender Nicky Kit (19’), sophomore midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak (23’) and sophomore MF Holly King connected for the Gators’ three goals. Florida’s game against Miami will air live on Sun Sports at 7 p.m. It is the first game of the University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season.

TWO BITS: Brantley’s ‘stache, McGarity thoughts

1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley seemingly stunned the media Saturday…by having grown a mustache. All joking aside, Brantley apparently decided to do so as a tribute to two former Florida quarterbacks – his father John Brantley III and his high school coach Kerwin Bell. As to whether or not it will be a permanent fixture in his look? “I’m not sure yet. Everyone is doubting me, so I might do it for that reason. They say I won’t keep it, so I might just because of that,” he said.

2 » Georgia’s hiring of former Florida executive senior associate director of athletics Greg McGarity as their new athletic director was not much of a surprise to anyone, especially considering McGarity’s pedigree, experience and talent. A few of the Gators’ most prominent names provided their thoughts about the McGarity hire in an official release from the University of Florida.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley: “I’m happy for Greg and his family. It’s been a dream of his to be an athletic director and all of his hard work has paid off. Greg has been an invaluable asset to our organization over the years. He has been involved in the day to day operations of our department and has been by my side every step of the way – from hiring coaches, to budgets, facility planning and event management, he has been a key component of our success. Greg is extremely loyal and has great vision for the future. More than anything Greg is one of my most trusted and closest friends. He has meant much more to me than an employee. Greg is family and we wish him the very best.”

Head football coach Urban Meyer: “Greg has been a tremendous asset to me and our football program in my time at Florida. I remember first meeting Greg when Jeremy flew out to talk to me about the Florida job. He was involved in every discussion with Jeremy and our family and I could tell right away that Greg played a pivotal role in the athletic department. I could also see that his relationship with Jeremy and others in the athletic department went beyond the professional level. He was very well liked and respected among his co-workers. Greg always found a way to get things done, but he did it in a very personable manner.”

Head basketball coach Billy Donovan: “I’m elated for Greg and his family that he is getting a chance to not only direct a first-class athletic department, but in essence, to go home. I’ve known Greg for 15 years, he was involved in my hiring at Florida, and has been someone I’ve always had great respect and admiration for. I echo the sentiments of everyone here in wishing he and his family the best in Athens and we will certainly all miss him. Georgia has made a fantastic hire.”

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

8/14: Florida Gators 2010 fall scrimmage updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators has been participating fall practice for just about a week and, while the activities were closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur during Saturday’s scrimmage. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details learned throughout the day.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey (accelerated heartbeat) may have returned to practice Friday, but he was held out of contact drills once again Saturday. With Sunday off, he will probably resume those exercises on Monday. Senior linebacker Brandon Hicks (dehydration) did not return to practice and is still recovering. He will also likely be back Monday.

Other players held out of Saturday’s scrimmage include left tackles sophomore Xavier Nixon (minor injuries) and redshirt sophomore Matt Patchan (wrist). The duo, who are competing for the starting job, were replaced by redshirt senior right tackle Marcus Gilbert, though redshirt senior left guard Carl Johnson saw some action there also.

POSITION BATTLES

Nothing new on starting middle linebacker (still a competition between sophomore Jon Bostic and redshirt freshman Jelani Jenkins), but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told reporters Saturday that (as expected) redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown and senior Moses Jenkins separated themselves from the freshmen in the race for starting cornerback. Freshmen Trey Burton and Tyler Murphy continue to compete for back-up quarterback behind redshirt junior starter John Brantley.

“I THOUGHT YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT HYBRID ANIMALS”

Always searching for roster flexibility, the Gators have been experimenting with using redshirt sophomore wide receiver Omarius Hines at tight end. Hines has bulked up a bit (up to 222 lbs.) and has good size for the position but is still primarily a receiver. Similarly, redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed is still playing Wildcat quarterback – especially on goal line formations. And though Murphy will likely convert to receiver once five-star QB recruit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) joins the program in 2011, he has not been working out at that position as of yet.

WIDE RECEIVERS STAND OUT

WR coach Zach Azzanni raved about freshman Quinton Dunbar’s performance Saturday, noting that “He jumped over the top of our corner and made a heck of a touchdown catch. He has a lot of natural talent,” according to the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser. Dunbar apparently took advantage of freshman cornerback Josh Shaw on this play, but junior CB Janoris Jenkins admitted that the secondary as a whole did not grab a single interception all day mostly because of Brantley’s accuracy.

There was also a lot of talk about redshirt senior WR Carl Moore being perhaps the most consistent pass catcher of fall practice thus far…and no one should be surprised (in our opinion) that redshirt sophomore Frankie Hammond, Jr. is reportedly working his tail off to make the team and earn the respect of both his peers and coaches.

QUOTES

Brantley on his pass catchers: “Our receivers have come a long way. They’ve been catching the ball really well. [They are] running fast, running great routes. It’s been hot out there and they just keep going. That’s what I like to see. They just keep going.”

QB coach Scot Loeffler on Brantley: “He’s doing a much better job of leadership and taking command of the offense. It’s his time to step up and be the leader and he’s taking that challenge on and doing a much better job with it. I thought Johnny did a fairly good job today of going to the right place with the ball. We’ve just got to make plays when plays present themselves and when the play is not there obviously protect the football. That’s our plan to win around here. We need to protect the football and make sure we do a great job helping our team continue to win.”

Austin on Jenkins’ corner play: “He did some good things out there. Sometimes as a corner you don’t get a lot of looks, but when the play does come your way, are you in position to make the play and you make the play, and he did that [Saturday].”

Brown on finally being healthy: “This is as excited as I’ve ever been here. I’m just taking it all in. I’ve been away from the game so long, you just want to help out. I spent two years not playing at all, not even practicing, so the opportunity just to go out there and contribute just brightens my day.”

Thanks to the News-Press, Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post for the above quotations.

8/13: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

The 2010 version of the Florida Gators has been participating fall practice for just about a week and, while the activities were closed to both the media and public, some notable things did occur during the morning session. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details learned throughout the day.

DEHYDRATION CONCERNS

The University of Florida announced Friday afternoon that senior linebacker Brandon Hicks left morning practice and was rushed to a hospital to be treated for dehydration. A team spokesperson said Hicks is “doing fine” and is expected to fully recover.

SPEEDSTER RETURNS

Redshirt junior running back Chris Rainey is fast, but an accelerated heart rate had kept him out of practice for a few days. After undergoing a non-invasive procedure and resting, Rainey returned to practice Friday but was held out of contract drills. He will get contact either Saturday during the Gators’ first scrimmage of the fall or when practice resumes on Monday.

CAST OFF

Seemingly always injured, redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Matt Patchan suffered a hairline fracture in his wrist a few practices ago and was scheduled to miss action for 10-14 days. Head coach Urban Meyer told reporters Friday that Patchan’s cast is coming off and he will begin working out again on Saturday.

Check out the rest of Friday’s morning practice notes…after the break!
Continue Reading » 8/13: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice updates

FOUR BITS: Harvin, Drayton, Ingram, den Dekker

1 » Bad news coming out of Minnesota Vikings training camp as the team has received a roster exception for former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin, indicating that the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year will not be returning to the team anytime soon. The specific exemption, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune is “left squad.” Harvin, who is in Minnesota, has been dealing with serious migraine headaches since his grandmother passed away a few weeks ago.

2 » Florida redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody was dismayed when running backs coach Stan Drayton and the program parted ways in 2007 but was even more excited to find out he had been rehired after last season. “I didn’t know how to handle it,” Moody said at Florida Media Day regarding Drayton’s departure. “He was a big reason I came to Florida because I wanted a relationship with my position coach and I wanted to be coached by a really good running backs coach.” Upon finding out Drayton was returning? “I was in my car when I found out. I was so excited and I think I actually did scream at the top of my lungs. […] I believe he’s the best coach in the nation at running back and he takes his job very seriously. I’ve learned so much in the four or five months he’s been [back] here.”

3 » Former Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram has not played a football game in exactly 954 days. Think he is excited to get back on the gridiron? “I definitely want to produce as much as possible when I’m out there,” Ingram told the Burlington County Times. “But just being out there is going to be an unbelievable feeling.” Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid is excited for Ingram too but does not want him to overexert himself. “He’s a competitive guy, and his juices will be flowing, but within reason,” Reid said. “He’s just got to play the game and concentrate on his assignments and catching the football and blocking and so on.”

4 » Florida outfielder Matt den Dekker, selected in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, added a solid note to the beginning his minor league career Thursday with the Savannah Sand Gnats. Powering his way to three doubles on four plate appearances, den Dekker has a .470 batting average in four games with the club. He started out with the Gulf Coast Mets but was promoted after only five games.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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