SIX BITS: Meyer, Fricke, Murphy, James, Patriots

1 » On the heels of FOX Sports’ piece about Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday comes another from the New York Times’ Pete Thamel, who notes that Meyer has a new perspective on his coaching career these days. In fact, it even led him to discard his Blackberry for a time being in place of an “older model with no Internet connection. He programmed seven numbers in it – for his four immediate family members, his two sisters and his father. No one else knew the number.” His wife, Shelley Meyer, is happy with his progress and health now. “As scary and hard as it was on the family and the team, so much good has come out of it,” she said. “The way he is now, he could go 10 more years.” Even strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti noticed something wrong with Meyer’s weight – by looking at his butt. “When he’d walk, his pants would sag halfway down,” Marotti said. “He looked like one of our players. He completely lost his entire rear end.”

2 » A university spokesperson announced Thursday that senior Florida basketball guard Hudson Fricke has decided to transfer to Milligan College. A walk-on who only played 22 minutes in three years, Fricke’s only points came on four free throws during the 2007-08 season. OGGOA wishes him the best of luck with his new team.

3 » Recapping what coaches learned during Oakland Raiders training camp this offseason, Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times notes that former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy “is far and away the Raiders’ best and most dangerous receiver” even though he “still drops too many passes for a real level of comfort. Murphy, who caught 34 balls for 521 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, was the team’s best WR and second-leading pass catcher in 2009-10.

4 » Tough night for former Florida kick returner Brandon James on Thursday. While returning a punt for the Indianapolis Colts, James muffed the catch, allowing the Green Bay to recover the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. Additionally, rookie cornerback Ray Fisher returned a kickoff 58 yards for a TD. With Devin Moore likely to be the team’s primary returner, there is a chance James loses his opportunity with the Colts.

5 » No. 9 Gators soccer (2-0) looks to stay undefeated Friday night as they take on the Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1) at 6 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

6 » Conspicuous by their absences Thursday night were New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, neither of whom participated in the team’s third preseason game. Hernandez missed practice this week with an undisclosed injury, and Cunningham has yet to participate in a single NFL down this season. Both, however, are expected to see major playing time this year. Florida rookie LB Brandon Spikes, who did play, recorded seven tackles (five solo) and a quarterback hit.

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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Florida rookies complete less impressive week

The first week of the 2010 NFL preseason saw 10 Florida Gators rookies in action, many of whom contributed nicely to their respective team’s performances. Due to injuries and other circumstances, there was much less action in the second week of the preseason for these Gators. Nevertheless, OGGOA is here to recap.

QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos
Game 2: Did not play – ribs
Game 1 Passing: 8-of-13 for 105 yards (8.1 avg., 87.0 QB rating)
Game 1 Rushing: Two carries for 10 yards, one touchdown

CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns
Game 2 Defense: Two tackles (one solo), two passes defended
Game 2 Kick returning: Two attempts for 43 yards (long 28)
Game 1 Defense: Three solo tackles, one pass defended
Game 1 Kick returning: One attempt for 34 yards

G MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game 2: Worked as first-team center
Game 1: Worked as first-team guard, second-team center

LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots
Game 2: Did not play – undisclosed
Game 1: Did not play – concussion

DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals
Game 3 Defense: Four tackles (three solo), one sack, one Gator Chomp
Game 2 Defense: One tackle
Game 1 Defense: Did not play – concussion

LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots
Game 2 Defense: Three solo tackles
Game 1 Defense: Eight tackles (three solo) [team-high]

S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears
Game 2: Did not play – finger
Game 1 Defense: Seven tackles (six solo)

TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots
Game 2 Receiving: Four receptions for 46 yards [team-highs], one touchdown
Game 1 Receiving: Three receptions for 26 yards (long 21)
Game 1 Rushing: One carry for six yards

WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles
Game 2 Receiving: Two receptions for 22 yards
Game 2 Special Teams: Two tackles
Game 1 Receiving: Three receptions for 61 yards (long 46) [team-high]

WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills
Game 2: Did not play – ankle
Game 1 Receiving: Five receptions for 47 yards [team-highs], one touchdown

KR BRANDON JAMES, Indianapolis Colts
Game 2 Punt returning: Two attempts for 22 yards (long 19)
Game 1 Kick returning: Four attempts for 99 yards (avg. 24.8, long 28)
Game 1 Punt returning: One attempt for five yards
Game 1 Receiving: One reception for two yards

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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

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SIX BITS: Jackson, Cooper, James, Moss, Pouncey

1 » Tuesday, OGGOA noted that former Florida Gators wide receiver Chad Jackson has been quite impressive during Buffalo Bills training camp. In the team’s evening session, Jackson continued his upward climb, drawing this statement from head coach Chan Gailey in his post-practice press conference. “The guy comes out to play every day,” Gailey said. “It looks like he’s made up his mind that he wants to be a very good football player. I think that bouncing around [from team to team] is not what he intended for his career and I think he’s decided to go out and make himself the position. He’s been impressive.” There are murmurs throughout camp that Jackson has a legitimate shot to begin the season as the team’s starting No. 2 receiver opposite Lee Evans.

2 » Speaking of former Gators pass catchers getting a chance to impress, Philadelphia Eagles rookie Riley Cooper is set to get more snaps with the first team now that both starters – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – are out with injuries. Philadelphia beat writers are already of the belief that Cooper will begin the season as Maclin’s back-up, and now he has the opportunity to prove he can be an adequate replacement.

3 » Word out of Indianapolis Colts training camp is also positive for undrafted free agent rookie Brandon James. Being utilized extensively on special teams, James is also getting the opportunity to catch passes and run reverse plays. He appears to be a shoe-in to get past first cuts and many of those covering the team believes he has the chance to be a Leon Washington- or Darren Sproles-like piece for the Colts in 2010.

Three more BITS on Moss, Pouncey and Taylor…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Jackson, Cooper, James, Moss, Pouncey

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Bengals sign DE Carlos Dunlap to rookie deal

Former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap, a 2010 NFL Draft second-round pick, came to terms Wednesday on a four-year, $3.01 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal includes a $1.22 million signing bonus, $1.779 million in guaranteed cash and an additional $649,000 available through incentives.

Dunlap, who the team had hoped to successfully sign before training camp, was selected by the Bengals 54th overall, just one slot after the New England Patriots picked defensive end/linebacker Jermaine Cunningham.

The Gators now have six of nine draft selections under contract with cornerback Joe Haden (Cleveland), center/guard Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh) and quarterback Tim Tebow (Denver) still awaiting deals. Wide receiver David Nelson and running back/kick returner Brandon James have already agreed to undrafted free agent contracts with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts, respectively.

Photo Credit: CNATI.com

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FOUR BITS: Bruns’ award, Dunlap, James, Wright

1 » Florida Gators lacrosse’s freshman attacker Ashley Bruns was named the 2010 American Lacrosse Conference Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. Bruns, one of the top recruits in the country, led Florida’s inaugural lacrosse team in goals (44) and assists (30) while taking home numerous honors over the course of the season. She also earned a spot on the All-ALC Second Team along with teammates freshman midfielders Brittany Dashiell and Jamie Reeg.

2 » Former Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap is already finding a level of comfort with the Cincinnati Bengals. He knows exactly what the team expects of him and hopes to exceed their projections. “They drafted me to be a pass rusher. That’s definitely something I want to be the best at on the team, so I can be that guy,” said Dunlap according to CNATI.com. “I’m just working on that and working on becoming an NFL player. […] It’s a passing league. If you can be a dominant pass rusher, you can be one of the dominant players in the league.”

3 » By all appearances, former Florida kick returner Brandon James had a rough year in 2010, culminating with a season-ending injury that kept him out of the postseason. Unable to compete at most pre-draft workouts, James was counting on his college production and workout at the Gators’ second Pro Day to fuel interest. The Indianapolis Colts recognized his talent, signing him to an undrafted free agent contract after the 2010 NFL Draft completed. Now, James believes he can greatly impact the former Super Bowl champions (at least) on special teams. “That’s an area I can help in,” he told the Indianapolis Star. “If not making big plays, then putting [the offense] in good field position. If you put the offense at the 40- or 50-yard line, the chances [of scoring] are a lot greater than if it starts at the 18 or 20. That’s what I feel like I’m here for.” In order to remain “here,” James will have to beat out Indiana’s Ray Fisher, a seventh-round pick who is also attempting to make the team as the primary returner.

4 » Though he spent a good amount of time at Florida as a strong safety, Major Wright is already competing for the starting free safety job with the Chicago Bears, according to the Daily Herald. Wright, the Bears’ third-round selection, is ready and raring to go. “I was like, ‘Wow my dream’s come true,’” he said. “I dreamed about this when I was younger and it’s here. Now I just have to go out and hustle and just stay focused.”

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

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KR James, WR Nelson, LB Stamper find homes

Though they were not fortunate enough to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, three former Florida Gators players have already signed professional contracts as undrafted free agents.

Kick returner Brandon James was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver David Nelson found a home with the Buffalo Bills and linebacker Ryan Stamper agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions.

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OGGOA’s comprehensive 2010 NFL Draft preview

When I sat down and thought about the best way to preview the 2010 NFL Draft from a Florida Gators perspective for OGGOA‘s readers, I realized trite things like mock drafts, destination predictions and the like are really a bunch of hogwash. At the end of the day, few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft – trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player brings to the table differently than analysts and commentators do.

So rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, we will stick with what likely will happen. And you can check it out…after the break!
Continue Reading » OGGOA’s comprehensive 2010 NFL Draft preview

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