4 NFL BITS: Brown, Lemmens, Spikes, Black

1 » In a surprising move on Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints released former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown. A nine-year NFL veteran who spent the first eight years of his career with the Chicago Bears, Brown was signed by New Orleans as a free agent in 2010 and notched 39 tackles (32 solo) with a forced fumble and two sacks as a 16-game starter. He held the same position through the first three preseason games and worked with the first-team defense in every practice this offseason. “It saddens me to say that I have been released from the Saints because [they're] a first class organization and I will miss it,” he wrote on Twitter. “Good luck to the guys and Who Dat Nation keep roaring… My family and I had a blast here.. Thanks.” Brown joins DE Bobby McCray and offensive tackle Max Starks as big-name free agents currently available with Florida ties.

2 » Also receiving bad news was former Gators linebacker Duke Lemmens, an undrafted free agent who found out Tuesday that his contract with the Arizona Cardinals had been terminated. Lemmens played in the team’s first three preseason games and made a number of tackles but was one of many players the team released in this round of cuts.

3 » New England Patriots LB Brandon Spikes had not practiced or played with the team since Aug. 4 but finally returned to the field on Tuesday according to reports from numerous media outlets. Spikes has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury but is expected to see some time in the team’s preseason finale at home on Thursday. He played in 12 games with eight starts during his rookie season and was fifth on New England with 71 tackles (41 solo) and an interception. He was suspended for four games in 2010 for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

4 » Another player out for an extended period of time was former Florida safety Ahmad Black, a fifth-round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2011 NFL Draft. Black suffered a high ankle sprain in the team’s preseason opener and has missed numerous practices and both subsequent preseason games since. There are rumors that Black could be cut soon because the team is only planning to keep four safeties and he has not had much of a time to make an impression, but head coach Raheem Morris has said previously that he believed Black was one of the steals of the draft. “I know he’s going to try to go this week,” Morris said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “But it’d be hard right now for him to go out there and do some things, especially with the way Larry Asante’s playing, and Corey Lynch. Those guys played their butts off this preseason, not to mention our starters. It’ll be tough. You’d like to see him out there.” Black could always be a candidate for the practice squad in a worst-case scenario.

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Gators undrafted free agents agree to deals

Updated July 27 at 3:30 p.m.

The end of the NFL lockout sent the league into a frenzy Monday evening as teams were officially allowed to contact and agree to contracts with undrafted free agents who were not selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. With only four Florida Gators picked in the seven-round draft back in April, a number of well-known players remained available heading into one of the most questionable offseasons in pro football history.

With contracts now being signed as names continue to roll in, a number of former Gators have already been picked up to join NFL squads this year.

Everything started Monday evening as linebacker Duke Lemmens chose to stay out west and play for the Arizona Cardinals, defensive tackle Terron Sanders got a call from the Baltimore Ravens, and running back Emmanuel Moody decided to join 2010 undrafted free agent wide receiver David Nelson with the Buffalo Bills.

On Tuesday, punter Chas Henry chose to team up with wide receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Cornelius Ingram on the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end Justin Trattou decided to play close to home with the New York Giants, and offensive lineman Carl Johnson joined up with DE Alex Brown on the New Orleans Saints.

Wednesday brought two more signings as LB A.J. Jones found a spot with the Denver Broncos and LB Brandon Hicks [unconfirmed] signed with the Bills. Jones joins quarterback Tim Tebow in Denver, while Hicks teams up with Moody and Nelson in Buffalo.

Safety Will Hill was originally reported to have agreed to a deal with the Washington Redskins; however, it surfaced Tuesday that those reports were premature and the two sides have not spoken about a contract.

OGGOA spoke with Sanders early Tuesday morning, and he related to us that former Florida defensive coordinator now Baltimore defensive backs coach Teryl Austin had a lot to do with him getting this opportunity with a top-tier franchise.

“Coach Austin, he’s up there now, and he put in a good word for me and told them that I can plug the hole and knock people back,” Sanders said. “He convinced them to take a shot at me. They called my agent, my agent called me and asked me if I’d be interested in going to Baltimore. I told them, ‘Yeah,’ and the deal is done.”

Though he has been hoping the lockout would end and has been keeping in shape, Sanders also kept himself busy with a regular job until his future was known.

“I haven’t put on a pair of shoulder pads in a while,” he said. “I’ve been working out, doing some running, and I started working at U-Haul about two weeks ago just to get some money in my pocket until this was decided.”

Other players who could be signed include WR Carl Moore and defensive lineman Brandon Antwine and Lawrence Marsh.

OGGOA will update this post as additional signings are announced.

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TWO BITS: Teryl Austin hired? Joe Haden’s chain

1 » Former Florida Gators defensive coordinator Teryl Austin may have a new job…thanks in part to a fellow former Florida defensive coordinator having moved on. With Greg Mattison leaving the Baltimore Ravens to take the same job with the Michigan Wolverines, Baltimore decided to promote secondary coach Chuck Pagano to his old position. That left an opening on the team for Austin, who according to the National Football Post, has already interviewed to be the Ravens’ secondary coach and is “considered the leading candidate to land the job.” Before joining the Gators, Austin was the secondary coach for the Seattle Seahawks from 2003-06 and Arizona Cardinals from 2007-09; he participated in one Super Bowl with each team.

2 » Last April, OGGOA posted this picture of Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden showing off a unique “Gator Boy” chain at the 2010 Orange & Blue Debut. The Fab Empire found this picture of Haden sporting the ice while out on the town last week, so we figured it was worth sharing here once again.

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Addazio “really jacked up about” Gators in 2010

Flying into West Palm Beach, FL, for a Gator Gathering with the Palm Beach County Gator Club on Monday evening, Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio was anything but tired from a long day’s work. He gave a passionate and informative speech and answered questions for over 90 minutes before departing. Below is a recap of some of the more newsworthy, interesting and passionate things that Addazio had to say during the event:

Check out much of what Addazio had to say Monday…after the break!
Continue Reading » Addazio “really jacked up about” Gators in 2010

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Meyer returns feeling good, ready to coach again

Lost among the hysteria of the Florida Gators‘ Pro Day and an appearance by the basketball team as a No. 10-seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against the Brigham Young Cougars was the beginning of spring practice for the football team – something that (perhaps most importantly) also saw the official return of head coach Urban Meyer from his leave of absence.

Meyer, who told reporters that he actually returned in an official capacity a few weeks ago after taking some personal time to get healthy and rested, spoke confidently about his health. “I’m not going to get into all that, but I feel fine. I feel good,” he said after the three-hour practice. He also declined denied to speak about a number of tests he underwent in February.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s story on Meyer’s return to the Gators after the break!
Continue Reading » Meyer returns feeling good, ready to coach again

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Teryl Austin hired as Gators’ defensive boss

The University of Florida has raided the NFL for a defensive coordinator for the second time since Charlie Strong left to become head coach of the Louisville Cardinals in January. After hiring George Edwards from the Miami Dolphins only to lose him to the Buffalo Bills 27 days later, the Florida Gators have agreed to name Arizona Cardinals defensive backs coach Teryl Austin as their new defensive coordinator.

Coaching since 1991, Austin has experience on both the collegiate and professional levels. Tutored by names like Joe Paterno, Dick MacPherson, Lloyd Carr and Mike Holmgren after playing four years of college football at Pittsburgh from 1984-87, the 44-year-old has yet to hold a defensive coordinator position at either level. Both of his stops in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks and the Cardinals, reached the Super Bowl while he was leading their respective secondaries.

Though he has not previously worked with head coach Urban Meyer, Austin has connections to interim head coach and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler. During Addazio’s tenure as offensive line and tight ends coach with the Syracuse Orange from 1995-98, Austin was on the staff as a defensive assistant (1996-98). Loeffler knows him through his time with the Michigan Wolverines, where the former worked as a graduate assistant (1998-99) and QB coach (2002-07) while the latter served as a defensive assistant (1999-2002).

“I am pleased to have Teryl join our staff,” Meyer said in a UF release. “Coach Addazio did a great job coordinating our efforts with Chuck Heater and Dan McCarney to hire Teryl. It was important that we had some familiarity with Teryl as both Coach Addazio and Coach Loeffler had worked with him before. He also comes highly recommended from my close friend Bill Davis, the defensive coordinator of the Cardinals. It was also important that we hire a coach who is a great teacher, a great mentor and has the ability to be a great recruiter. Coach Austin has all of those qualities and beyond that is a good family man.”

“I’m excited to join the Gator coaching staff,” said Austin in the release. “I’ve watched from afar what this program is about – winning championships with dynamic players and doing things the right way. Now, I’m honored to be a part of the program and a part of The Gator Nation. I look forward to getting to work with an outstanding group of players and a great coaching staff.”

Co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Chuck Heater, a 33-year coaching veteran and one of Florida’s strongest recruiters, is expected to retain his new title and position. Heater has worked with Meyer on-and-off since 1986 when he coached the secondary for the Ohio State Buckeyes while Meyer was a graduate assistant. Since joining the Gators, Heater has coached cornerbacks and safeties, served as recruiting coordinator from 2005-07 and assistant defensive coordinator from 2008-09.

Florida Gators (Projected) 2010 Coaching Staff …after the jump!
Continue Reading » Teryl Austin hired as Gators’ defensive boss

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FOUR BITS: Harbison, Dr. Indelicato, McCray

1 » Clemson Tigers co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison has removed his name from consideration for the Florida Gators defensive coordinator position according to a report by FootballRumorMill.com. The Post and Courier reports that Harbison told his head coach Dabo Sweeney on Thursday that he is staying put. Habison may very well have declared he is no longer a candidate or (more likely) the Florida coaching staff decided he was not a good fit and he is simply trying to save face. It is believed that Arizona Cardinals DB coach Teryl Austin is the Gators’ top candidate to replace George Edwards.

2 » University of Florida orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Indelicato, the team physician for the football and men’s basketball teams, will be honored on Feb. 20 as a “Champion With Heart” at the Gainesville Heart Ball. Though he has four championship rings with the Gators, Indelicato calls the award “the greatest honor of my life.” Read the rest of his story at The Gainesville Sun.

3 » One of the best long distance runners in Florida state history, Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, FL) has committed to run at UF in the fall. The 2009 Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year, 2009 Footlocker Cross Country All-American and three-time individual state champion signed his letter of intent on Tuesday. “I really felt comfortable being with the team,” Mizereck told the Tallahassee Democrat. “They were like automatic best friends. I felt the atmosphere with the University of Florida was phenomenal.”

4 » Former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray, now a Super Bowl XLIV champion with the New Orleans Saints, was interviewed by Jim Rome on his national radio show Wednesday. The audio is available below.

Bobby McCray on Jim Rome – 02/10/10

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Will Florida go back to the NFL for Teryl Austin?

The Florida Gators originally took a month to replace former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong with former Miami Dolphins inside linebackers coach George Edwards. Now forced to replace Edwards after he defected for the same position with the Buffalo Bills, head coach Urban Meyer (on a leave of absence) and interim head coach Steve Addazio are faced with another staff position to fill.

OGGOA broke down some of the leading candidates to fill the defensive coordinator role on Friday and even updated the story Tuesday after learning that Clemson Tigers co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Charlie Harbison was being interviewed for the job. Just a day later, the National Football Post has forced us to add another name to the Gators’ list: Arizona Cardinals defensive backs coach Teryl Austin, who is expected to interview for the position on Wednesday.

UPDATE: The Orlando Sentinel‘s Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday evening that Austin and members of the Gators staff did indeed meet on Wednesday with the team coming away impressed. Fowler says “there seems to be a strong possibility” that Austin will join Florida as its next defensive coordinator.

The Gators will likely name a new defensive boss before the end of the week. For more about Austin, be sure to visit and read through the link below.

UPDATED: Replacing Edwards as defensive coordinator

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