1 » Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic did not have the easiest rookie season as he was thrust into a starting role before he was truly ready for it due to an injury suffered by veteran D.J. Williams. Bostic showed his inexperience (on the NFL level) at middle linebacker and struggled at times during the season, so much so that with Williams set to return, Bostic was moved to strong side linebacker where he was set to compete for the starting gig this offseason. However, according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago, Bostic has been splitting time with Williams as the first-team middle linebacker during organized team activities and is “making a strong impression” in the early going. “Bostic has significantly raised the stakes [of the starting competition] despite training camp not starting until late July,” wrote Mullin. “Bostic is generally considered to have the most pure explosive, sudden speed of all the linebackers [on the roster].”
1 » Linebacker Brandon Spikes became the third former Florida Gators football player to find a new home this offseason when he agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in late March. Spikes is guaranteed just $900,000 (his signing bonus) as part of the deal, which has a base salary of $1.25 million and an additional $1.1 million available via bonuses. he can also earn up to $250,000 through incentives. Though Spikes was a favorite of New England owner Robert Kraft, he did not enjoy his time with the Patriots. Especially bothersome to Spikes was the fact that he played injured the entire 2013 season and was suddenly placed on injury reserve before a playoff game despite not suffering a setback. Now Spikes will be able to go head-to-head with his former team as he is on another squad in the AFC East.
1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Andre Caldwell re-signed with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, inking a two-year deal worth a maximum of $3.45 million to remain with the team. Caldwell was signed by Denver in 2012 when the Broncos signed quarterback Peyton manning and was not given the opportunity accomplish much his first season. Last year, Caldwell only caught five passes through the first 14 weeks before exploding on Dec. 2, 2013 with six receptions for 59 yards and his team’s only two touchdowns in a 27-20 loss to San Diego. He caught 12 passes over the final five games and was held without a reception in Super Bowl XLVIII. With Denver not expected to re-sign WR Eric Decker, Caldwell could have a greater opportunity to contribute in 2014.
1 » His behavior in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal taken into consideration, former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey remains in the Miami Dolphins future plans, according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, who reported Friday that the team is “committed” to Pouncey and plans in May to pick up a team option to keep him in Miami for a fifth season in 2015. Pouncey is set to earn $1.63 million in 2014 and will likely want to renegotiate his contract after the Dolphins pick up their option. This in theory would give the team a full season to evaluate Pouncey’s behavior off of the field and give them more data to decide whether or not signing him to a huge deal would be a wise long-term investment. “Pouncey is an excellent player,” new Miami general manager Dennis Hickey said on the radio Thursday. “I’ve had good conversations with him in the last month. I’m excited about the future.”
2 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem is playing the fewest minutes of his career, shooting career-lows from the field and charity stripe and barely making an impact on the court for the defending champions, but his selflessness, relationship with the franchise and impact in the locker room all kept him off the trading block this season. According to Dan LeBatard, Miami rejected a trade offer from Philadelphia that included Evan Turner even though Turner would have been able to give the Heat an extra scorer off the bench, help their title chances this season and save the team $4.62 million against the luxury cap next season. By doing so, Miami is showing considerable loyalty to Haslem, who sacrificed more than $10 million in salary as a free agent in 2010 to sign with his hometown team (where he has played since 2003) rather than move elsewhere. The undrafted free agent out of Florida is a three-time NBA champion with the Heat (2006, 2012-13) and Miami’s all-time leading rebounder.
1 » A pair of season-ending injuries have resulted in big-time opportunities for a couple of former Florida Gators defenders as Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans appear to be in line to start the remainder of the season for their respective teams. Bostic, who was expected to push veteran D.J. Williams for playing time and the starting role this season, will replace him on the first string after Williams suffered what head coach Marc Trestman said Friday is likely a torn pectoral muscle. Evans will be stepping into the starting safety job in place of Dwight Lowery, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering a severe concussion. He has already started two games for Jacksonville and should fill the role for the remainder of the season if not indefinitely.
2 » Aaron Hernandez remains in custody and charged with first-degree murder for the death of Odin Lloyd, but investigators have continued to seek separate charges for Hernandez stemming from a July 2012 double murder that has been connected to him and his associates. According to FOX 25 out of Boston, MA, an eyewitness to the 2012 drive-by shooting has fingered Hernandez as one of multiple men that pulled the trigger that night. The man claims to have been sitting in the middle of the back seat of the car that was shot upon. “Things happened so fast. I was just trying to defend myself,” the witness told the station. “They were shooting everywhere inside the car, front to back. They just came to kill. That’s it.” He said he realized one of the shooters was Hernandez after recognizing his face from it being plastered all over television recently. “When I see his face, I just recognize his face,” he said. “Compare his face that night to his face now. It’s that face I remember.”
Check out two more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Bostic, Evans, Hernandez, Calathes, Noah
Chicago Bears rookie middle linebacker Jon Bostic delivered one of the most devastating hits one will ever see on a football field during a preseason game on Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers.
Check out animated GIF (above) and video (below) of the massive tackle as well as reaction from some former and current Florida Gators. If a celebrity or athlete you follow tweeted about Bostic, please tweet or e-mail us.
Former Gators and Bears defensive end Alex Brown (@alexbrown96): “That dog gone Florida Gator is a MAN!!! 57 is gonna be just fine!!!”
Former DE, current ESPN analyst Marcellus Wiley (@marcelluswiley): “BOSTIC!!! Just put some wood on Willie of the Chargers. My goodness! #Bears #Poundcake”
Miami Dolphins LB Jelani Jenkins (@jelanijenkins3): “My boy Bot just killed em”
Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans (@JAY_E_9): “Wow my boy Bostic just Rocked my boy. Turn up #gogators”
The 2013 NFL regular season is exactly one month away from kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 5.
More than three dozen former Florida Gators are currently working out with their respective teams and trying to either keep or earn roster spots for the upcoming year.
Below are select updates on some of these Gators for the second full week of training camp from July 28 to Aug. 4.
The Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys squared off during the 2013 Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game, in Canton, OH, on Sunday night.
RB MIKE GILLISLEE*, Miami Dolphins: Seven carries for 21 yards (long: 9)
LB JELANI JENKINS*, Miami Dolphins: Two tackles
C MIKE POUNCEY, Miami Dolphins: Started Hall of Fame Game
K CALEB STURGIS*, Miami Dolphins: Did not play – groin
QB TIM TEBOW, New England Patriots: Though cameras caught Tebow hauling in passes and protecting the ball in a drill last week, he will be nothing but a quarterback for the Patriots, according to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “He’s just practicing his open-field running,” McDaniels said. “We know Tim has a skill set that some of these other guys don’t possess in terms of ability to run with it, scramble with it when he has it in his hands. … He’s put in a lot of time and effort to improve his individual skill set to play the position of quarterback in our offense, and I think every day is a learning tool for him.” Tebow has also received a nod from starter Tom Brady. “We have good conversations,” Brady said, according to the Associated Press. “He loves playing football and that’s usually the type of guys who do well here.”
Read updates on seven other former Gators…after the break!
1 » Florida Gators sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison was released from Alachua County Jail on his own recognizance Monday, nearly 36 hours after he was arrested and charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for simple battery. Morrison, accused of punching a bouncer outside Kava Bar and Hookah Lounge at 1007 W. University Ave. on Sunday morning, is being represented by attorney Huntley Johnson. “At this point, he would enter a plea of not guilty,” Johnson told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway after his client was released, “but we need to talk to witnesses [first].”
2 » Gators senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, indefinitely suspended by head coach Billy Donovan on June 10 for a violation of team rules, will not be rejoining the program any time soon. “Right now, he needs to prove that he wants to be part of the team and that this is what he wants to do,” Donovan told Brockway on Monday. “He has to take care of responsibilities. At this point, I don’t really want to address any more about his status until the season starts in October. Hopefully this is something he can learn from.” Wilbekin was suspended at the start of the 2012-13 season for a similar violation of team rules; he missed three games but eventually returned to his role as Florida’s starting point guard. Wilbekin is currently barred from the team practice facility as part of his indefinite suspension.
Donovan also commented to Brockway on the status of a waiver that will be submitted to the NCAA by Rutgers transfer guard Eli Carter, who is looking to play immediately for UF in 2013-14, and the academic eligibility of five-star power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL). Both are works in progress.
4 » ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan is currently in the middle of a 20-part series in which he is looking at the programs that have “produced the best pros in the modern draft era (since 1989, when the draft went from seven to two rounds).” Checking in at No. 11 on his list is Florida, which of course owes much of its success in preparing players for the NBA to Donovan. “He’s been as successful as any coach in the country, and in the process has elevated the Gators from a laughingstock to a program with as many solid current NBA players as any in the country,” writes Brennan.