Florida Gators report to NFL training camps

Updated at 9 p.m.

With NFL training camp finally underway after an extended lockout cancelled organized team activities and mini camps, more than three dozen former Florida Gators are working out and trying to earn their keep this year. Below is a comprehensive look at each player in the league as well as those still looking for work.

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TWO BITS: Finley redshirted, Latsko signed

1 » Florida Gators linebacker Dee Finley announced via Twitter on Friday that he has been granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA. He is now a redshirt freshman instead of a sophomore and will have three years of eligibility remaining. Finley broke his collarbone early in the season and missed most of it while healing and recovering. UPDATE: The Gators have announced that Finley has yet to officially receive his redshirt exception from the NCAA – it is pending approval.

2 » After Placing tight end Antonio Gates on injured reserve, the San Diego Chargers decided to sign former Florida fullback Billy Latsko on Thursday and plan to play him on Sunday against Denver. Latsko, who spent two years with San Diego, has a good understanding of the offense already and will be able to contribute right away as two of the team’s starters – running back Mike Tolbert and FB Jacob Hester – are injured.

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10/7: Florida Gators week six practice notes

No. 12/14 Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s sixth game of the 2010-11 season on Saturday against the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details which you can check out below.

BRANTLEY WAS LIMITED BUT IS “FINE NOW”

Early in the week rumors surfaced that redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley was questionable for Saturday’s game against LSU after injuring his ribs against Alabama. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio shot down those reports Tuesday, saying Brantley was “doing great” though he was “a little sore…just like every game.” Meyer expanded on Brantley’s limitations Thursday, noting that he was actually unable to throw the ball for a part of the week. “On the injury front, Brantley’s good,” he said. “He was limited mostly, well, throwing. So we would have another guy go in and throw the ball for him a little bit [because] his ribs were so sore, but he’s fine now.” Meyer insisted that Brantley will be ready to go Saturday without limitations.

TIME HAS COME FOR PLAYMAKERS, EXTRA PROTECTION

Asked whether or not it was time for the coaching staff to push guys like redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose and freshman running back Mack Brown onto the field for increased playing time and touches, Meyer smiled and appeared to provide a genuine response. “Uh-huh. It’s that time. It’s been that time for a while,” he said nodding emphatically. “[Debose is] getting better. He’s getting better.”

And while those playmakers may see the field a bit more, Meyer also received word that he would be getting back one of his favorite offensive players, redshirt junior fullback Steven Wilks. Finally recovered from a back injury, Wilks has been cleared to play and will be in action on Saturday. “That’s good news for us that he came back and had a great week of practice,” Meyer boasted. “Great attitude. He’s a good player. He’s like Billy Latsko, he’s just one of those football position guys. Very smooth player. He’s not a home run hitter or anything like that but he’s a guy that gets in your way and blocks you and knows the offense real well.”

OTHER INJURY UPDATES

Though junior RB Jeff Demps “still is limited,” according to Meyer, he is expected to “be at the same tempo he was last week against Alabama” for Saturday’s contest. While the news seems positive for him and sophomore RB Mike Gillislee, the same cannot be said for some other Gators.

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine will remain out of action, freshman WR Chris Dunkley’s hamstring is “acting up, so he’s not going to be ready either for a couple more weeks,” and freshman WR Quinton Dunbar recently tweaked his hamstring in practice as well. When speaking about the injuries, Meyer noted that Dunbar “was getting better” and called Dunkley “my man.”

Also remaining on the sidelines is junior kicker Caleb Sturgis, who has been replaced by senior punter Chas Henry. “Caleb’s getting better. He won’t kick Saturday,” Meyer said. “I kind of like what our man did, Chas. Caleb’s getting better and he’s feeling better. I’m not sure the timetable because it’s actually is a stress fracture.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
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OGGOA Presents: Florida Gators All-Decade Team

The 2000s were quite a decade for University of Florida athletics. Florida Gators football and basketball were especially exceptional, combining for four National Championships (five appearances) and five Southeastern Conference Championships (six appearances) while earning five BCS bowl game and eight NCAA Tournament berths, respectively, over the last ten years. To end this decade of champions, OGGOA has compiled our own Gators All-Decade Team for each sport.

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