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).
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
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.
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.
1 » Overlooked this weekend was an injury suffered by former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who was dinged pretty hard during practice Saturday night. Team doctors told Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis that Dunlap suffered a concussion and will be out of action for the short-term. “Hopefully we’ll get him back here quickly,” Lewis said in a press conference Monday. “He had been encouraging. It seemed that he had turned the corner in some of the things we had asked him to do.”
2 » As expected, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow has been taking his “hazing” in stride with a smile on his face and a hop in his step. While some in the league question if similar practices are actually necessary to build chemistry, most rookies seem not to care and realize it is just a part of the process to be accepted by your teammates and NFL veterans. Though Tebow has plenty more to do in order to win over the Broncos both on the field and behind the scenes, carrying some pads on a hot day is a pretty good start.
1 » With seven of their eight 2010 NFL Draft picks now under contract, the last thing on the docket for Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren is to sign former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden to a deal. Here is what he had to say about the situation at a press conference on Wednesday:
“As far as Haden goes, those of you who have been around this for a long time, the number one picks you just need a domino to go and then it starts to happen. Then it just explodes and happens. We have had good discussions with Joe’s agents and I am hopeful that he will get in without too much loss of time. It’s very important for the young man, I will say that. I get the business part of it, even when I was coaching I did. It frustrated me to a certain extent, but I get it. This is a lot of money, but I also saw and lived through and experienced the importance of this with a lot of athletes. If they wait too long, they miss some really valuable stuff. [...] It’s hard to catch up in most cases. It’s important that he gets in here, but I’m not discouraged. I think we are making progress.”
2 » As draft picks are being signed left and right, the Cincinnati Bengals made a splash Wednesday officially signing veteran wide receiver Terrell Owens to a one-year contract. Owens’ signing will certainly impact former Gators WR Andre “Bubba” Caldwell, who had been penciled in as the team’s starting slot receiver in 2010. Instead, it looks like veteran Antonio Bryant will hold that role and Caldwell will be fighting for balls as the Bengals’ No. 4 pass catcher. Caldwell said he realizes his playing time will be “diminished” but “maybe not. I’m just going to keep grinding and playing my hardest.” Nevertheless, he has great respect for Owens. “I read his book. I’ve been watching all this time,” Caldwell said. “He’s one of the greatest receivers. […] To be able to learn from him is something I’m really looking forward to.” As far as team chemistry is concerned, Caldwell has no worries. “If Chad [Ochocinco] can’t disrupt this team,” I don’t think T.O. can,” he told the team’s website.
3 » Former Florida thrower Evelien Dekkers, who took home the 2010 NCAA National Championship in women’s javelin, was named the 2010 U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Outdoor Women’s Field. Dekkers is the only female in school history to own a national title in javelin and holds a school-record toss of 58.99m/193-6.
4 » Good news came Wednesday for Gators redshirt senior gymnast Maranda Smith, who has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. A four-time All-American, Smith has suffered a stress fracture in her right shin and torn her right labrum in previous seasons. “I’m so grateful that the NCAA granted me another year of eligibility,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to competing with my Gator teammates again and having another chance to compete in front of the O’Connell Center fans is truly a gift.”
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.
1 » Appearing Friday on The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio, the network’s AFC West blogger Bill Williamson predicted that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will start this season for the Denver Broncos – beginning in week 12. Williamson believes Kyle Orton will play the first 10 games of the season, and Tebow will take the reigns if the team is no longer in playoff contention. ESPN Insider notes that “Williamson points out that Tebow was drafted not to serve as a clipboard holder or gadget play extraordinaire, but to play starting QB, and he will be given the opportunity to do so unless Orton comes through with a very solid season.”
2 » One of the best things about following athletes on Twitter is the ability to read their streams of consciousness when going off on a tangent or speaking passionately about an issue. Monday, former Gators wide receiver Andre Caldwell of the Cincinnati Bengals expressed his desire to take his game to another level while putting some responsibilities – like family and friends – on the back burner for a short period of time.
“Training camp starts in [nine] days. I can’t wait. I dedicated my entire offseason to getting better and working hard – now it’s time to show it off,” Caldwell wrote. “I worked extra hard this whole offseason. I haven’t had much time to hang out with family and friends. I’m trying to accomplish my dream and be the best WR in the NFL, and the only way I know how to be the best is to work harder than every WR in the league. My friends and family say I’m selfish and I have changed [be]cause I don’t make time for them. I tell them I’m chasing my dream. Am I wrong? People say I have become crazy and my work ethic is insane, but my love for the game is much crazier and failure is not a[n] option. I see and hear all the comment[s] these report[er]s write and how they write me off, but it just add[s] fuel to this fire burning inside me.”
Extra BIT » Former New York Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent was a thorn in the side of the Boston Red Sox, so it is no wonder that having his son – and Florida freshman – Cody Dentplaying in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the summer was a “risky” move. “The first day they were joking about Bucky (Bleeping) Dent,” Cody told The Gainesville Sun. “I just laugh along with it. It’s all good humor.” The move was a suggestion by head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who elicited a funny response from the elder statesman. “I texted Sully and said, ‘What are you trying to do, get my son killed?” Bucky exclaimed. Never nervous while playing professionally, watching his son play makes Dent jitter. “I can’t sit still,” he said. “I’ve go to move because I get really nervous. Way more nervous than when I played. I’m sitting there in the College World Series and he’s playing third base against Florida State and I’m going, ‘Oh God, he’s 18 years old, there’s 20,000 people in the stands and national TV,’ and I’m sweating bullets.”