FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

1 » A rough rookie season has not deterred the Miami Dolphins from committing to former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis. Though he started his NFL career on fire with 10-straight makes, Sturgis suffered a slump where he missed 5-of-8 (some of which were in tough conditions and others from absurd long distances). He ended the 2014 season by making 13 of his final 16 tries and should only get better in his second campaign. “Every day you go out there, you want to hit every field goal,” Sturgis told his team’s website. “You try. When you get in a rhythm where you’re hitting every field goal you make, you stay at a consistent level.”

2 » The Seattle Seahawks continue to treat oft-injured wide receiver Percy Harvin with kid gloves, only allowing him to work out every other day in training camp. After an off day Saturday, Harvin returned to action Sunday and impressed once again. Head coach Pete Carroll explained to the team’s website how the Seahawks are being cautious with Harvin. “We want to work our way into camp and make sure we don’t overload him early,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.” For Harvin, who was famous for trying to avoid practicing every day with the Florida Gators, this appears to be as ideal of a scenario as he could imagine.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

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FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

1 » Just a couple days after voicing his belief in the talent and potential of former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was forced to waive the player for non-football reasons. “You can see the athleticism, the burst, the speed,” he said Saturday. “He puts a foot in the ground and gets north and south.” Pagano is expected to address the situation after training camp on Monday, though it is doubtful that he will detail what specific conduct rule that Rainey violated. It will be the second time in as many offseasons that Rainey will be released by a team for non-football reasons. Just one year ago, Rainey was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after an arrest for domestic violence, a charge that was later dropped and expunged from his record. The Steelers also had concerns about Rainey’s off-field activity including a gambling habit that affected him during his rookie season.

2 » Updating an item from Friday, former Gators safety Will Hill spoke with the media about being signed by the Baltimore Ravens, claiming once again that “everything is behind me” in terms of his marijuana use. “[I was] just being irresponsible,” he said, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “Yeah, I feel like I’ve learned. I’m ready to play football. [The Ravens] talked to the [New York] Giants and they had nothing but good words to say about me.” Apparently Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome sat down with Hill and was assured that the player’s drug use – which has been an issue since he started playing at Florida – is now in the back window. “It was just getting comfortable with each other and letting him know that the things that happened before won’t be happening here,” Hill added. Though he will be able to practice with the team and play in preseason games, Hill will not be activated for the 2014 regular season until Oct. 13 as he must first serve a six-game suspension, his third for drug use (second for a substance of abuse) since being signed by the Giants three years ago.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

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TWO BITS: Noah poking James, support for Rainey

1 » Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah has been a thorn in the side of LeBron James since the day Noah was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Mostly nudging James in a joke-serious fashion, Noah has never shied away from challenging the league’s best player (or James’s former team, the Miami Heat) with humorous yet pointed remarks. “I’m happy for LeBron James,” said Noah while hosting a charity event in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday. “He gets to go home. People are happy over there. But I really hope that we can kick his ass as many times as possible.” The 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Noah will have his best chance to compete for a league title in 2014 with a healthy Derrick Rose and new contributing piece in Pau Gasol.

The charity event Noah hosted on Friday was to debut a new public service announcement for his Noah’s Arc Foundation, one made in an effort to help stop gun violence and promote peace in the Windy City. “All this violence that’s going on in Chicago, I feel like it’s all our problems. It’s not just a South Side problem. It’s not just a West Side problem. This is a city problem,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We all have to come together. I don’t know what the answers are. I really don’t. I’m just trying my best.”

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Noah poking James, support for Rainey

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TWO BITS: Hill signed by Ravens, Pounceys sued

1 » Former Florida Gators safety Will Hill is being given yet another chance by an NFL team with the Baltimore Ravens signing the free agent and adding him to their training camp roster on Friday. Hill, who is serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a second time, has also previously been suspended under the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He will be cleared for reinstatement on Oct. 13, at which time he will be able to play for the Ravens. Until then, Hill can practice with the team and participate in preseason games in hopes of earning a roster spot. In his second year with the New York Giants in 2013, Hill amassed 77 tackles with two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles. He has proven to be a capable NFL player and even a spot starter but is still struggling with off-the-field issues that have prevented him from keeping a job or earning a healthy contract.

2 » After weeks of accusations, a lawsuit has finally been filed against brothers and NFL centers Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey for an alleged assault at a night club in early July. Though neither man has been charged for a crime by the Miami-Dade Police Department, and both Pounceys claim their innocence through their lawyer, the accusers are nevertheless suing for damages in excess of $15,000.

The accusers claim that both brothers began by addressing Ricquan James with “derogatory and homophobic remarks and anti gay slurs” before shoving the man. Eventually he claims, Maurkice struck him “in the face several times,” causing him to fall to the ground in a fetal position. At that time, he claims Maurkice, Mike, “their security and agents all began to punch, hit and kick” him. When his friend, Niya Pickett, “attempted to intervene and requested that the Pouncey group seize from beating” James, “Maurkice then grabbed [her], spun her towards him, punched her in the face and knocked her unconscious.” Furthermore, the suit states that “James and Pickett were then violently beat and thrown throughout the club and eventually thrown outside the club.” The victims are claiming blunt force trauma, contusions, bruising, broken teeth and an eye injury. The Pounceys are each being sued for assault & battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and vicarious liability by each of the three co-defendants.

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FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

1 » Five days after junior guard/forward DeVon Walker tore his ACL and four days after the news officially broke, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has addressed losing a key role player for the entire 2014-15 season. “DeVon had two years under his belt. He was really finding out who he was as a player and looking good at workouts,’ Donovan said in a story on the school’s website. “I feel terrible for him because he had worked so hard to get himself to this point.” Florida also announced that Walker, who tore the ligament during an individual workout, is scheduled to go under the knife at some point later this summer.

2 » According to The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, the torn labrum suffered by Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is likely to keep him out up to eight weeks of the regular season, three more than initially predicted. Though Pouncey was only projected to miss the Dolphins’ first four games (the team has a bye week in week five), he is now a candidate to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season. Players on that list cannot return to their team until after the sixth game of the season. Pouncey will be included on the PUP list during training camp and into the preseason, but Miami will have the opportunity to decide whether to keep him on it before the first week of the regular season.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

What is this?

In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

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2 BITS: Erik Murphy traded, Darrin Kitchens cut

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy is in the process of being traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who reports that he will be one piece of a four-player transaction between the teams. Cleveland will receive Murphy, John Lucas and Malcom Thomas in exchange for Carrick Felix, a future second-round pick and $1 million. The Cavaliers are in the process of acquiring non-guaranteed contracts in hopes of eventually trading for Minnesota Timberwolves F Kevin Love, meaning Murphy could wind up being moved and/or waived again in the near future.

Murphy, who signed a two-year, $1.31 million rookie contract, is due a non-guaranteed salary of $816,482 in 2014-15 with a team option for $1.15 million in 2015-16. He was originally selected with the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls but was waived on April 3 as the team hoped to clear cap space. Utah nabbed him off the waiver wire two days later. While his NBA future is completely up in the air, Murphy will spend the summer competing for the Finnish national team in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball.

Murphy played just 62 minutes over 24 games during his rookie season, averaging .231 on 13 field goal attempts and failing to drain any of his three attempts from beyond the arc. Playing for Utah in NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas, Nevada, Murphy was .333 from the field and .250 from long range.

2 » One day after injuring his leg during training camp, former Gators linebacker Darrin Kitchens was waived-injured by the Buffalo Bills. Kitchens, a long shot to make the team anyway, was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, five Gator Chomps

1 » The SEC Network launches in less than a month, and former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is signed on to be a featured analyst on the channel. While Tebow, by all accounts, is prepared for his new gig, he has certainly not given up on his desire to play in the NFL this season. According to a report from FOX 10 out of Phoenix, Arizona, Tebow has been spending plenty of time in Scottsdale training with Ian Danney in the scorching sun. The video clip below shows Tebow playing Danney-ball, a game in which players toss a 10-pound heavy ball over a net on a sand volleyball court.


In other Tebow news… A new poll has Tebow out of the top 10 when ranking the most popular athletes in the nation; he came in No. 8 just year ago while prepared to enter training camp with his third NFL team. Tebow is also prepared to open his third PDQ restaurant chain, this one at the Oakleaf Town Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He has already cut the ribbon at one location in Ocala and has plans to open another in Gainesville in the next six months.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, five Gator Chomps

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