NFL cuts deliver good and bad news for ex-Gators

NFL teams were required to trim their active rosters to 53 men on Saturday, which meant a number of former Florida Gators were on the fence about whether or not they would make their respective teams going into the 2010-11 season.

GOOD NEWS

» As expected, all nine Gators selected in the 2010 NFL Draft made it through training camp and the preseason.

» Former Florida wide receiver David Nelson, who signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills after the draft, was told Saturday afternoon that he made the team. “Officially a Buffalo Bill,” Nelson wrote to his Twitter account. “Thanks to everyone for the support and prayers through this long but rewarding process!”

» Though it is not believed he was in complete danger of making the cut, former Gators safety Reggie Nelson got what he will likely consider his own form of good news Saturday, as the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to trade him to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, in need of safety help after losing Gibril Wilson to a season-ending injury, decided to trade cornerback David Jones and a conditional draft pick to the Jaguars. Nelson will be reunited with wide receiver Andre Caldwell and defensive end Carlos Dunlap in Cincinnati.

BAD NEWS

» Tight end Cornelius Ingram has faced plenty of adversity since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during his senior season with Florida. Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 153 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Ingram proceeded to tear the same ACL again as a rookie during training camp. Finally back at near full speed, he had been playing well for the Eagles this offseason until a baker’s cyst in his knee kept him out of action. Ingram was released by Philadelphia on Saturday but will be a candidate to land on the team’s practice squad should he go unclaimed.

» Even though he scored three touchdowns in the Indianapolis Colts‘ final preseason game, former Gators kick returner Brandon James did not make the cut with one of the top teams in the AFC. Instead, the team elected to sign Devin Moore for that job. James did muff a punt that was returned for the touchdown during the preseason and will likely be picked up as a practice squad player with either the Colts or another team.

» One of the team’s most valuable defensive players throughout the 2009 playoffs, former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray was cut by the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, just over a month after the team brought him back (they originally let him go on June 21). In the offseason, the Saints signed fellow former Florida DE Alex Brown, who will be a starter for New Orleans this season.

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Gators’ rookies continue to roll in preseason

Four weeks of preseason action have now come to a conclusion, and the majority of the Florida Gators‘ 10 rookies have been regularly participating for their respective teams. OGGOA takes a look at how they have been performing thus far with only one more week to go before the 2010-11 NFL regular season begins.

QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos
Game 3 Passing: 5-of-10 for 72 yards, one TD, one INT (14.4 avg., 67.5 QB rating)
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 3 Defense: Five tackles (two solo), one pass defended
Game 3 Kick returning: one attempt for 12 yards
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

C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game 3: Worked as first-team center
Game 2: Worked as first-team center
Game 1: Worked as first-team guard, second-team center

LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots
Game 3: Did not play – undisclosed
Game 2: Did not play – undisclosed
Game 1: Did not play – concussion

DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals
Game 4 Defense: One tackle (one solo), two QB hits
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 3 Defense: Seven tackles (five solo), one QB hit
Game 2 Defense: Three solo tackles
Game 1 Defense: Eight tackles (three solo) [team-high]

S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears
Game 3: Did not play – finger
Game 2: Did not play – finger
Game 1 Defense: Seven tackles (six solo)

TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots
Game 3: Did not play – undisclosed
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 3 Receiving: Three receptions for 39 yards [T-team highs], one touchdown
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 3: Two receptions for 34 yards, one touchdown
Game 2: Did not play – ankle
Game 1 Receiving: Five receptions for 47 yards [team-highs], one touchdown

KR BRANDON JAMES, Indianapolis Colts
Game 3 Kick returning: Six attempts for 144 yards (avg. 24, long 34)
Game 3 Punt returning: Two attempts for six yards, one fumble
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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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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Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» The University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season officially begins Friday as No. 11 Florida Gators soccer takes on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Admission is free, and the match will air live on Sun Sports.

» New England Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez scored his first career professional touchdown on Thursday, catching a four-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter of the team’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Hernandez, who lead the team with four receptions and 46 yards, had to turn around to complete the reception in the back of the end zone. Also shining for the Patriots on Thursday was running back Fred Taylor (team-high 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD). Linebacker Brandon Spikes racked up three solo tackles, while defensive tackle Gerard Warren added one assisted.

Eight more Gator Bites on Tim Tebow, Major Wright, Cornelius Ingram, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Chris Leak, Ryan Lochte and Urban Meyer…after the jump!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

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Tebow’s debut: the good, the bad and the ugly

Considering every other media outlet has or will dissect Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow‘s first game as a professional, OGGOA figured we would take a look at the former Florida Gators signal caller’s performance by breaking it down into three categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Throughout Sunday night’s game, Tebow displayed much of what helped him succeed at Florida – a strong arm, good pocket awareness, solid decision making and the ability to go through his progressions. However, there were some faults to his game to point out as well (see below).

Keep reading for more details and a video complete with all of Tebow’s highlights.
Continue Reading » Tebow’s debut: the good, the bad and the ugly

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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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Emmitt Smith apologies for omitting Gators

From the moment his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech concluded Saturday night, speculation surrounded running back Emmitt Smith’s omission of the Florida Gators when discussing his career and progression to the NFL.

Did he purposely snub the University of Florida, or did he accidentally forget to mention them due to the emotion and importance of the evening?

Smith took the first step in making amends Sunday, answering the questions head-on via four posts on his Twitter account. The following quote is an edited summary of his tweets:

Thanks for all of the good wishes about the Hall of Fame…need to say a special hello to my Gator Nation. I sincerely, sincerely apologize for not mentioning you last night in my Hall of Fame speech, Gator Nation. I just got caught up in everything. Pleaase charge it to my mind, not my heart! Once a Gator always a Gator. I loved everything the University of Florida gave me.

The Gators’ Ring of Honor member was also interviewed during Sunday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game between the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. He once again recognized Florida when prompted by Al Michaels:

“Technically my speech was supposed to be less than 20 minutes, so I stretched it out to 24…and I forgot one most important ingredients: my Gator Nation. And I sincerely apologize for not recognizing the University of Florida and Urban Meyer and Jeremy Foley and all of the Gator Nation. Because the Gator Nation truly helped me get on the platform on the collegiate level which led to where I’m at right now here in Canton.”

Smith concluded his interview segment with a Gator Chomp.

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TWO BITS: Wright injured, Villegas sponsored

1 » After straining his groin muscle Monday, Chicago Bears safety Major Wright became the fourth former Florida Gators player (and third rookie) to get injured in the opening days of 2010-11 training camp. According to ESPNChicago.com, Wright hurt himself while “attempting to change direction and locate a deflected Jay Cutler pass during a full team drill.” He “appeared to lose his footing and almost ended up doing the splits. He then gingerly jogged off the field to receive treatment from the teams’ training staff and remained out the rest of the workout.” Bears head coach Lovie Smith was optimistic after practice, indicating that the trainers believe he will be fine. “I like the way he’s played football,” Smith said. “he’s been around the ball quite a bit. He has good hands and is eager and excited about being here. He’s a good football player. But we need to get him out on the football field because there’s good competition at the safety position.”

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was carted off the field after tweaking his ankle over the weekend; both Oakland Raiders WR Louis Murphy and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap suffered concussions.

2 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is not the only one making major sponsorship news. CNBC’s Darren Rovell reports that former Gators golfer Camilo Villegas has signed a brand new sponsorship deal with TaylorMade. Formerly with Cobra (Puma), Villegas will now sport a TaylorMade-adidas bag, equipment and attire during matches. “Camilo is a winner, a gentleman, and a fan favorite,” company president and CEO Mark King told Rovell. “Cameras tend to find him because he has presence and magnetism that’s impressive and rare. Camilo also shares the same values with our brand and our people, including a burning desire to improve and reach his potential. We very much want to help him do that, which is why believe this is a great fit.” In March, Villegas won the 2010 Honda Classic.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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