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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SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida. According to the Bay Area News Group, Speights blew Breathalyzer tests of .103 and .106, well above Florida’s legal limit of .080. He was initially pulled over for “failure to yield right of way while pulling out of a driveway” and subsequently failed roadside field sobriety tests before having the alcohol content of his breath examined. Speights, on the second year of a fully-guaranteed three-year, $10.97 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, has been charged with a second-degree misdemeanor but was released on $500 bond. He was celebrating his 27th birthday on Monday.

2 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was one of three players cut by USA Basketball on Monday as the organization reduced its roster to 16 ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Now on a break, USA Basketball will resume its training camp on Aug. 13. It will have approximately two weeks to trim four more players from the roster ahead of the international event. Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is one of the 16 players still competing for spots and the only former Gators player still in camp.

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has missed consecutive practices with a foot injury and was seen in a walking boot at his team’s last practice. Cooper had a career year in 2013, hauling in 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns; he is expected to see his role increase in 2014 now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the franchise. Prior to stepping on the field last season, Cooper found himself surrounded by controversy off the field when a leaked tape of him screaming a racial slur at a security guard made national news. He recently said that it still haunts him to this day. “Obviously, I was very embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about the situation,” he told NFL Network’s Michael Irvin last week. “Words hurt, and I’m crushed by it. But it felt good to know my teammates were supporting me. … It meant a lot to me. That was a huge deal, nationwide. That is a big deal. And to have the support from the guys that know you, it means a lot.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

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SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

1 » ESPN announced on Monday that the Florida Gators will help kick off the network’s annual 24-hour college basketball marathon when they host the Miami Hurricanes on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. live on ESPNU. Florida is one of four Southeastern Conference teams that will participate in the event, joining Auburn, Kentucky and South Carolina. The two featured contests for the marathon include a doubleheader on Nov. 18 featuring Duke vs. Michigan State at 7 p.m. and UK vs. Kansas at 9 p.m.

2 » For the third time in the last two offseasons, a former Gators football player has been sidelined for the entire season after suffering an injury during practice. The New York Jets announced on Saturday that linebacker Jermaine Cunningham suffered a torn Achilles and will miss the entire 2014 campaign. Cut in training camp last year by the New England Patriots, Cunningham was not picked up by the Jets until November. He played in two games for New York without registering a tackle and was considered on the roster bubble for 2014 entering team workouts.

3 » The Arizona Cardinals on Friday announced the signing of former Florida offensive tackle Max Starks, who barely played in the NFL in 2013 after spending less than a month on the roster of the St. Louis Rams. A 10-year veteran who has started 96 games in his career, Starks is well-known by head coach Bruce Arians, his former offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether Starks ultimately makes the team out of training camp remains to be seen.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

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FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Miller, Easley, Big Brother

1 » Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin was placed in the starting lineup for the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday but posted just two points on 1-of-4 shooting with two assists, a rebound, a steal and a turnover in 21 minutes. In his first action on Saturday, Wilbekin had a game-high five assists (all in a seven-minute span in the first half) and finished +14 on the afternoon. Below is the rest of the Orlando schedule; all games air live nationally on NBA TV.

Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Vernon Macklin) vs. Houston
Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Memphis (Wilbekin)
Thursday, July 10 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Boston
Thursday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Houston

2 » According to ESPN 92.9 FM out of Denver, Colorado, the Denver Nuggets brought in guard/forward Mike Miller for a meeting on Sunday. Miller, who wants to end his career with the Grizzlies but appears to have reached a bit of an impasse with the franchise, is also drawing interest from Houston, Oklahoma City and Portland. The station reports that the first offer from the Grizzlies was for two years at $5-6 million total, though Miller is said to be looking for about $12 million over three seasons.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Miller, Easley, Big Brother

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Patriots ink DT Dominique Easley to rookie deal

Round 1 – No. 29
Dominique Easley, DT
New England Patriots


Height: 6’2″ – Weight: 288 lbs.
Age: 22 – Class: Senior

One of the final first-round selections to come to terms with his team, Florida Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley officially became a member of the New England Patriots on Monday by signing a four-year, $7.3 million contract.

The No. 29 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Easley likely would have been selected earlier had it not been for injury concerns stemming from two torn ACLs suffered in college.

It is because of these injuries that Easley and the Patriots took a while to get a deal done. According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, the two sides were haggling over injury language in the contract. As it turns out, Easley will receive a $3.6 million signing bonus with 80 percent of his contract ($5.9 million) guaranteed, according to Volin.

Continue Reading » Patriots ink DT Dominique Easley to rookie deal

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6 BITS: Muschamp, Lee, Easley, Donovan, Green

1 » The Florida Gators football team took a break from the offseason workout grind by going paintballing and playing other games like cornhole on Thursday. “It’s important for our players and coaches to get together off the field, outside the stadium and the weight room,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “We thought this was an excellent opportunity for our team to spend some time together in a fun, team-building environment.” It is the second time since Muschamp took over the program that the Gators went on a paintball trip as they last went on the outing in April 2011. Florida’s players seemed to have a great time on the trip with many sharing their excitement via various social media outlets. By all accounts, the Gators have spent a large portion of spring practice and the early summer working on team chemistry and the concept of having each other’s backs. Certainly a fun outing like paintball will only help UF reach its offseason goal.

2 » Though still under contract to the Minnesota Timberwolves, forward Kevin Love is one of the hottest names on the trade market this NBA offseason. One team that has expressed great interest in love is the Golden State Warriors, which are apparently in constant talks with Minnesota to find a package of players that could net them one of the best frontcourt players in the league. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, power forward David Lee is a key piece of a deal that could send Love to the Warriors, though no trade has been worked out as of press time. Should Lee get shipped off to the Timberwolves, he would team up once again with former Gators F Corey Brewer; the two were last teammates at Florida in 2004-05. Lee nearly averaged a double-double for Golden State last season, posting 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He will play his 10th season in 2014-15, and Minnesota would be his third team in that span.

Continue Reading » 6 BITS: Muschamp, Lee, Easley, Donovan, Green

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SIX BITS: Easley, Parsons, Beisel, Gilbert, Haslem

1 » New England Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley is one of seven first-round selections in the 2014 NFL Draft who has not yet signed with his team. According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, Easley and the Patriots are haggling over injury language in his contract, a sensible hangup considering he is coming off of a college career in which he suffered two torn ACLs. Easley also made the news last week for spending a weekend this month at a football camp held at Princeton by Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. Easley, as it turns out, attended the camp five years ago and wanted to give back. “The Easley story is a really good story,” Garrett told the Dallas Morning News. “He’s talked to the kids, and when he stands up there as the 29th pick of the first round and says, ‘I sat in that seat five years ago, so don’t tell me that you can’t do this.'” As it turns out, he’s pretty successful at the camp as the paper notes he won the team football event both as a player and in his first year as a coach.

2 » If you want to hear Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons discuss fashion for 17 minutes, you can do so by checking out the video below.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Easley, Parsons, Beisel, Gilbert, Haslem

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Tebow, Evans, Cunningham

1 » The New York Giants on Monday officially waived former Florida Gators safety Will Hill just days after the NFL officially suspended him for the first six games of the 2014 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Hill, who tested positive for marijuana for the second time as a professional, has now been suspended for drugs thrice in as many seasons (once for a performance-enhancing substance after testing positive for Adderall). The Giants gave Hill a chance despite his character flaws, signing him to a free agent contract in 2012 (after he went undrafted in 2011) and providing him with plenty of avenues for counseling and help should he need it during his tenure with the team. New York was willing to overlook his first transgression in 2012 as Hill claimed he needed Adderall for his attention deficit disorder but was perturbed when he was caught smoking marijuana in 2013. Three suspensions were simply too much for the Giants to stomach, even if Hill did amass 115 tackles (89 solo), two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), four pass defenses, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in two seasons.

2 » Quarterback Tim Tebow has not played a meaningful NFL snap since 2011 but has not given up on his dream of playing professional football even though he’s accepted a new role as analyst for the SEC Network. “I’m training every day and feel like I’m the best that I’ve ever been,” he told The Tennessean. “I still love it, love playing, talking about it, and I’m just excited about whatever the future holds. Who knows what could happen? But I’m excited about it, though.” Tebow will return to Gainesville, Florida, on Sept. 13 as the Florida-Kentucky game will be featured as the host of his SEC Nation game day program.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hill, Tebow, Evans, Cunningham

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