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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SIX BITS: Demps, Beal, Murphy, Horschel, Easley

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps is active on an NFL regular season roster for the first time in his career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to bring him aboard on Monday, the cut-off date established by the league for Demps’s roster exemption. Demps was traded by the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay in April but did not put on a helmet until after the preseason concluded as he spent the entire summer and offseason running track. Now officially a member of the Bucs, Demps will likely handle kick return duties and play sparingly on offense. He has not played a snap of meaningful football since Jan. 2, 2012.

2 » Out of work since being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason following an arrest (on a charge that was later dropped), RB Chris Rainey has received a couple of workout opportunities over the last few months. His latest was with the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Rainey ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash during the workout, but “the Chiefs have decided that they currently don’t have a spot for him.”

“Ran a 4.29 in the 40 and kill the workout too. Waitin on the Kansas City chiefs to get back at me or Watever team now. God is Good!!!” Rainey tweeted on Monday.

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS (two videos)…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Demps, Beal, Murphy, Horschel, Easley

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Patriots release Gators QB Tim Tebow; others cut

For the third time in an NFL career that has spanned as many full seasons, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has been dismissed by the franchise to which he was under contract as the New England Patriots decided to release the former Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday as they were forced to cut 22 players in order to whittle their roster down to 53 players ahead of the 2013 season.

ESPN‘s Adam Schefter first reported Tebow’s release via Twitter.

It took one month after being waived by the New York Jets for Tebow to be signed by New England, the team that always seemed like the best fit for his unique talents.

The Patriots acquired Tebow as a quarterback and waived Mike Kafka in order to bring him into the fold. In joining New England, he reunited with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft while serving as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

But McDaniels’s desire to give him an opportunity and owner Robert Kraft’s affection for him as a person were simply not enough to keep Tebow on the 53-man roster.

In 2011, during his second year with the Broncos, Tebow was a mid-season replacement at starting quarterback and set the league on fire by leading his team to numerous come-from-behind victories and seven wins in eight games from Weeks 7-14. He also threw a game-winning overtime touchdown against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, going went 10-of-21 for 316 yards with two passing touchdowns while carrying the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a rushing score.

Continue Reading » Patriots release Gators QB Tim Tebow; others cut

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FOUR BITS: Floyd, NFL, Demps, WWE, Lee

1 » It has been a busy last few days in Gainesville, FL for Florida Gators hoping to continue their football careers and be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. On Friday, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, linebacker Lerentee McCray and wide receiver Omarius Hines (who just ran the 40-yard dash in an effort to improve his time) participated in a private Pro Day on campus. Floyd and McCray both sat out Florida’s first Pro Day on March 12. According to NFL.com, 14 teams were in Gainesville to watch Floyd including the Oakland Raiders (No. 3 overall pick) with general manager Reggie McKenzie. NFL Network was there to watch Floyd; this report (which was followed by a lengthy discussion) was aired on Friday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter added that, on Monday, a collection of officials from the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 1 overall pick) – including general manager John Dorsey – held a private workout with Floyd.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was also in Gainesville over the weekend first to watch his daughter (an assistant coach for Ohio State’s lacrosse team) on Saturday and then to hold a private workout with five Florida players on Sunday, OGGOA has learned. Participating in Sunday’s private workout were McCray, linebackers Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, safety Josh Evans and defensive lineman Earl Okine. The only other person in attendance to watch the workouts was Belichick’s right-hand man, New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio.

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Floyd, NFL, Demps, WWE, Lee

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SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

1 » In addition to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Rainey (who is expected to be released from his contract) and Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson (a restricted free agent), six other former Florida Gators currently under contract with NFL teams will be unrestricted free agents the day after the Super Bowl. Those players include Atlanta Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Louis Murphy, Kansas City Chiefs LB Brandon Siler, Oakland Raiders guard Cooper Carlisle, Pittsburgh tackle Max Starks and Washington Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman.

On rosters for Super Bowl XLVII are San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald and Baltimore Ravens WR Deonte Thompson. The end result and may very well come down to which quarterback stands out and makes as few mistakes as possible.

2 » Speaking of Rainey, the former Gators running back had his recent simple battery charge reduced to disorderly conduct by Alachua County Judge Walter Green after the State Attorney’s Office decided it did not have enough evidence to pursue the more serious offense. The judge withheld adjudication and fined Rainey $200 to go along with court costs of $300 for the offense, effectively ending the legal issue, according to Florida Today. The alleged victim in the case denied that Rainey hit her the day after his arrest and contradicting statements from witnesses made the state’s case inconclusive. The Steelers announced the day of Rainey’s arrest that they had decided to waive him; however, NFL transactions made during the postseason cannot be completed until after the Super Bowl. With the charges being significantly reduced, Pittsburgh could theoretically have a change of heart or consider bringing Rainey back on a cheaper free agent contract.

Check out four more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NFL, Rainey, Beal, Rosario, track

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FOUR BITS: Freshman All-SEC, Harvin, Siler, UA

1 » Four Florida Gators football players were named to the 2012 Freshman All-SEC Team on Thursday. Left tackle D.J. Humphries was the only player from the offensive side of the ball to be honored, but the Gators cleaned up on the defense with three placements – Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., defensive end Jonathan Bullard and LB Antonio Morrison. Florida was one of three teams (Alabama, Texas A&M) with four players selected to the Freshman All-SEC Team.

2 » The Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday placed wide receiver Percy Harvin on injured reserve, abruptly ending his season. Harvin had not played since injuring his ankle in Week 9 but up to that point was a candidate for Most Valuable Player consideration. He led Minnesota in receptions in virtually every game he played, racking up 677 yards and three reception touchdowns to go along with a rushing score and return touchdown. Harvin reportedly suffered a grade-three ankle sprain (torn ligament) on Nov. 4 and has been unable to get healthy enough where team doctors would clear him to return to the field. The offseason was a rough one for Harvin, who appeared to get over his career-long migraine issues but was unhappy with how little the Vikings organization was using him on the field, reportedly noting privately that he wanted more touches in order to prove his worth and value. Minnesota and head coach Leslie Frazier heeded his request and used him plenty through the first nine weeks of the season. Harvin will enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2013. He was hoping to sign a new deal in the upcoming offseason though those plans may be on hold as the franchise could wish to wait and see how he performs next year.

3 » Kansas City Chiefs LB Brandon Siler has been relegated to reserve duty all season long. After being signed by the Chiefs prior to the 2011 season, Siler was expected to start for the team but tore his Achilles’ in the preseason and missed the entire year. Kansas City re-signed him to a one-year deal before 2012 got underway with it being known that he would likely be a backup who would see relatively limited action during games. That all changed last week when the player in front of Siler, Jovan Belcher, was involved in a murder-suicide that rocked the team, the NFL and the country as a whole. Siler moved back into the starting lineup in place of Belcher on Sunday. “All I know is there are two families out there, and there’s a little baby girl out there who is going to get my prayers every day for the rest of my life,” he told the The Kansas City Star. “That’s what’s really important to me.” Siler said he handled the situation his “own way” without the assistance of grief counselors but just wishes there was something he could have done. “I went through it a hundred times in my mind, and I couldn’t think of anything,” he said. “There are a lot of what-ifs, it drives you crazy. You have to cope with it and deal with it. It’s real and it happened.”

4 » Six Gators commitments have been named to the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game, which will take place on Jan. 4 and air live on ESPN. All playing for the black team, the Florida pledges that will suit up include four-star wide receiver Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL), four-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL), five-star defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL), four-star DB Marcell Harris (Orlando, FL), four-star DB Keanu Neal (Bushnell, FL) and four-star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, FL).

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FOUR BITS: Siler, Starks, Cunningham, Boynton

1 » Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler participated in a team practice for the first time since tearing his Achilles during the last play of a practice last August and missing the entire 2011 season. According to the team website, Siler only worked during individual drills but said it was good to be back in a helmet for the first time in nine months. “It was a lot of fun and it was football again,” he said. “All the [rehab] stuff that you do is meant to get you back playing football. When you get out there and put your helmet on – and I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had my helmet on – it feels really good.” He continued, “I’ve wanted to light somebody up since I went down.” Siler did not get that chance on Tuesday as it was a non-contact, non-padded practice but will have that opportunity soon enough.

2 » For the second time in as many offseasons the Pittsburgh Steelers have begun organized team activities and minicamp without offensive tackle Max Starks. Also for the second time in as many offseasons, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has begun minicamp wearing Starks’s No. 78 practice jersey instead of his own No. 7. Roethlisberger entered the NFL along with Starks in the 2004 draft and the two have been extremely close friends ever since. Starks was unsigned heading into the 2011 season due to a neck injury he suffered late in 2010; however, after injuries plagued nearly the entire offensive line he was brought back and started almost immediately for the remaining half of the season. Last year Starks tore his ACL in the last game of the season – a playoff loss to Denver; he remains at least two months away from returning to action but is not under contract. Some have deemed it unlikely that he return to the Steelers, which is what was said last offseason as well, but Roethlisberger will undoubtedly pine for him to come back and protect him even if it is in a reserve role. (h/t Justin C.)

3 » New England Patriots outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham barely played in 2011…and it had nothing to do with his health. A notable absence from the field for the vast majority of the season (ESPNBoston.com notes that he only played 3.6 percent of the snaps in 2011 compared to 50.9 percent as a rookie in 2010), Cunningham reportedly had problems adjusting to the team’s switch to a 4-3 defense (he was a defensive end in college but was moved to linebacker upon being drafted) and may have been hurt a bit towards the end of the season though that was not the reason he missed so much time up front. According to head coach Bill Belichick, things have turned around for Cunningham and his playing time should be on the rise if he stays on the right track. “Jermaine’s had a great offseason,” Belichick said on Tuesday, noting that includes “physical improvement,” “overall mental grasp of what we’re doing,” and improvements to his “reactions and technique.” He continued, “He’s really worked hard. He looks good.” As for how much playing time he could see? “It will be up to him, and how he performs, relative to the other players at his position.”

4 » Florida Gators junior guard Kenny Boynton has needed to learn how to be a true point guard for at least two years now. If he has a future in the NBA, he is going to have to learn how to handle the ball and create both for himself and his teammates rather than just spotting up on the three-point line and taking shots. However, due to the presence of Erving Walker and the decision-making of head coach Billy Donovan, Boynton had been relegated to a shooting guard role even though giving him time at point had been a topic of discussion and consideration over the last two seasons. This time it appears that Donovan is ready to make sure Boynton gets that opportunity. “The three years he’s been here, he’s played some point,” Donovan told The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway. “I think we’re going to need him to play some point. I think Scottie [Wilbekin] is the next logical guy in line. We signed Braxton Ogbueze who is a freshman. Kenny is a senior, so I don’t think there’s any question that Kenny is going to have to play some extra point because I think that’s best for our team.”

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