Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 2

The 2014 NFL preseason continued with 46 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fifteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 35 players that saw action along with select updates on some Gators during the second week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR Deonte Thompson: Target; three kickoff returns for 188 yards, touchdown (108-yard return)

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 1

The 2014 NFL preseason kicked off with 45 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fourteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 37 players that saw action along with select updates on a number of Gators during the first week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DB JAYLEN WATKINS*, Philadelphia Eagles: Two solo tackles, interception (one yard), pass defense

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 1

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Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Wild Card (2013)

The 2013-14 NFL Playoffs began this week with 12 former Florida Gators spread out over eight teams.

Six former Gators were listed as active for Wild Card action with eight total players (on five of eight remaining teams) advancing to the Divisional round next weekend.

Below are game statistics for all six active Florida players that were capable of participating in the opening round of the playoffs.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Started | six receptions for 68 yards (targets: 8, long: 22) [team-highs], touchdown
» New Orleans eliminated Philadelphia with a 26-24 win on Saturday.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Gators in NFL Playoffs: Wild Card (2013)

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Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

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!

Continue Reading » Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

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Bengals ink DE Dunlap to new six-year contract

Updated on Saturday, July 20 at 3 p.m.

The Cincinnati Bengals and former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap came to terms Monday on a brand new six-year contract that includes $40 million in base salary alone, according to Pro Football Talk.

Instead of earning just $630,000 in base salary on the final year of his rookie deal, he will earn $20 million between now and the conclusion of the 2014 season.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Joe Ready, Dunlap already received an $8 million signing bonus and will tack on $1.3 million in base salary for 2013. He will also pick up an additional $3.7 million when he reports to training camp this year and $5.7 million more as a roster bonus if he remains with the team on March 31, 2014.

Dunlap is also due a $300,000 annually via workout bonus and annual salaries of $1 million in 2014, $3 million in 2015, $4.05 million in 2016, $5.05 million in 2017 and $6.7 million in 2018. He can earn an additional $4.5 million in escalators.

A first-round talent who slipped to the second round and became the No. 54 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft due to some maturity concerns following a DUI arrest prior to the 2009 SEC Championship, Dunlap left Florida as a junior and came on strong during his rookie season in Cincinnati.

He registered 8.5 sacks in the final six games of the 2010 campaign and finished with 9.5 takedowns that year. Dunlap has been unable to duplicate that pass rushing success, totaling 10.5 sacks in the last two seasons, but he did force four fumbles (recovering three) in 2012 while also grabbing his first career interception and returning it 14 yards for a touchdown.

At just 24 years old, Dunlap’s ceiling remains high, and he is on the way to earning a full-time starting role with the Bengals.

Dunlap won OnlyGators.com’s NFL Player of the Week award four times in 2012, tied for second-most among Gators in the league last season.

He is the second former Florida player to sign a lucrative six-year contract in this offseason as wide receiver Percy Harvin inked a $67 million deal after being traded to the Seattle Seahawks.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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SIX BITS: WNBA, Parsons, Dunlap, Starks, Wuerffel

1 » The 2013 WNBA season opens this week with two former Florida Gators players and two more former coaches spread across the league. Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones will be entering her 15th season as a professional but first with the San Antonio Silver Stars. Guard Aneika Henry joins the Atlanta Dream for her second season after averaging 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting .468 as a rookie in 2012. Former Florida head coach Carol Ross returns to the same position with the Los Angeles Sparks, and former Gators head coach Mickie DeMoss comes back as an assistant with the Indiana Fever. Gators center Jennifer George, who was selected in the third round of the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Fever, is not on the team’s roster.

2 » Second-year Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons was asked to prom by a high schooler named Stephanie Flores in May. Though he had to decline her invitation as he was not in Houston, TX at the time, Parsons ensured that the student and her friends had a great time. He and the Rockets sent a party bus to escort Flores and her friends to and from the event, leading her to take the picture below.

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: WNBA, Parsons, Dunlap, Starks, Wuerffel

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TWO BITS: Rosario’s potential, Dunlap’s return

1 » Attending the Brayden Carr Foundation Clinic at Rutgers in Piscataway, NJ this week, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan and St. Anthony’s High School coach Bob Hurley spoke with SNY.tv’s Adam Zagoria about redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario and how he can reach his potential in his final collegiate season. “All we want is to see this kid who we love – he’s been in our gym since he was a little kid – that he plays to his potential this year and helps Florida to be a team that last year was a field goal away from playing in the [Final Four],” Hurley said. Donovan added that Rosario “can be a big part of our team” if he can take care of certain things on his end and continue to be a crafty player. “The bad habits that he established after leaving us, he’s had a year with Coach Donovan to get those habits out of his system,” Hurley said. Donovan noted that Rosario needs to focus on accountability in order to be successful. “It’s not necessarily him as a player – what he can and can’t do – it’s him just taking care of things he needs to take care of. And he’s a great kid. I’ve really enjoyed being around him,” he said.

2 » Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap returned to practice this week after missing the first two games with a knee injury he suffered during the preseason. Dunlap’s return is important for Cincinnati, which has struggled with its pass rush early in the season. Now in his third NFL season, Dunlap has already amassed 14 sacks through 24 career games. Eight-and-a-half of those sacks came in the final six games of his rookie season with his 2011 campaign not necessarily being as productive. The coaching staff was quite pleased with Dunlap during the offseason and believes he can have a major breakout year if he can stay healthy.

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FOUR BITS: Brown, Dunlap, Hernandez, Caldwell

1 » Out of the NFL last season, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown decided to call it quits and will make it official on Thursday when he signs a one-day contract with the Chicago Bears and retires from the league. Brown, who will sign his final contract on the day of Chicago’s first preseason game, was the No. 104 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Bears and became a start defender for the team. He registered 411 tackles, 45.5 sacks, five interceptions, 43 pass defenses and 17 forced fumbles over his nine-year career, the first eight of which he spent in Chicago. “This is pretty special,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune of the Bears offering him a one-day contract to retire. “It shows a level of respect. I appreciate the club and I think they appreciate what I was able to do while I was here, representing the team and their brand as far as the Chicago Bears. I did it and I did it proudly. I tried to play football the right way. I hope people always felt I played my butt off and played the game the right way and kept my nose clean off the field.”

2 » Another former Gators defensive end, Carlos Dunlap, has been coming on strong in his third training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals. Dunlap is looking to have a breakout year in his third NFL season and is putting all he can into camp this time around. “As a pass rusher you want to be at the top. I haven’t done that yet,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Whoever is at the top is not always the same, but I want to be up there with the best of them and crack that 10 [sacks] number. I was coming off the bench before and now I’m going to be a starter. That should help me get in a rhythm during the game.” Dunlap is being tasked with remaining healthy and being an every-down player; he has been showing the coaching staff that he can be exactly what they need going forward. “So far he’s been very good and done everything right,” defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer said. “Last year it took him about four days before he got started going down. Right now he’s still going in the right direction, so that’s a good sign.”

3 » The New England Patriots may have just re-signed tight end Rob Gronkowski to a huge contract but it is TE Aaron Hernandez whose role the team is desperately trying to expand. According to ESPNBoston.com, Hernandez has been “on fire” and “explosive” to start training camp. Not only is he hauling in plenty of passes, Hernandez has been used as a punt returner by the Patriots and is also staying late after practice to take hand-offs from quarterback Tom Brady. Hernandez is even receiving love from often frosty head coach Bill Belichick, who kissed him on the elbow (picture) last Friday. “I had a little bruise on my elbow and I was whining about it, and he was just showing me the love of a father figure and gave me a kiss on the elbow,” he told the Boston Globe. The love Hernandez truly wants to see is in the form of millions of dollars handed to him as a contract extension, though that may not be coming for quite some time.

4 » One former Florida offensive star may no longer be with the Denver Broncos but that is not stopping one of the team’s newest acquisitions, wide receiver Andre Caldwell, from shining. According to the Denver Post, Caldwell is getting along famously with new QB Peyton Manning thanks to his speed and sure hands; he may even be in line for a starting job. “There’s a place for me in this offense to make big plays to help this team win,” he said. “When Denver made that move at quarterback, this spot became a No. 1 priority.” Caldwell had some great moments but was never a consistent producer with Cincinnati, something that he hopes he can become in Denver now that a lingering injury is no longer a problem. “I mean, two years went by. I kept getting treatment. It kept not getting better and finally the pain got so bad I couldn’t even really sleep through the night,” he explained. “So I finally went to see a specialist, and he checks me out and said, ‘You’ve got a sports hernia, and it needs to be taken care of.’ Right then, I just felt that relief, like a huge weight was off. I know I can be one of those impact guys and now my body’s right. I’m with this team, with this quarterback. This is big.”

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