FOUR BITS: Harvin, Drayton, Ingram, den Dekker

1 » Bad news coming out of Minnesota Vikings training camp as the team has received a roster exception for former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin, indicating that the 2009 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year will not be returning to the team anytime soon. The specific exemption, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune is “left squad.” Harvin, who is in Minnesota, has been dealing with serious migraine headaches since his grandmother passed away a few weeks ago.

2 » Florida redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody was dismayed when running backs coach Stan Drayton and the program parted ways in 2007 but was even more excited to find out he had been rehired after last season. “I didn’t know how to handle it,” Moody said at Florida Media Day regarding Drayton’s departure. “He was a big reason I came to Florida because I wanted a relationship with my position coach and I wanted to be coached by a really good running backs coach.” Upon finding out Drayton was returning? “I was in my car when I found out. I was so excited and I think I actually did scream at the top of my lungs. […] I believe he’s the best coach in the nation at running back and he takes his job very seriously. I’ve learned so much in the four or five months he’s been [back] here.”

3 » Former Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram has not played a football game in exactly 954 days. Think he is excited to get back on the gridiron? “I definitely want to produce as much as possible when I’m out there,” Ingram told the Burlington County Times. “But just being out there is going to be an unbelievable feeling.” Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid is excited for Ingram too but does not want him to overexert himself. “He’s a competitive guy, and his juices will be flowing, but within reason,” Reid said. “He’s just got to play the game and concentrate on his assignments and catching the football and blocking and so on.”

4 » Florida outfielder Matt den Dekker, selected in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the New York Mets, added a solid note to the beginning his minor league career Thursday with the Savannah Sand Gnats. Powering his way to three doubles on four plate appearances, den Dekker has a .470 batting average in four games with the club. He started out with the Gulf Coast Mets but was promoted after only five games.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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SIX BITS: Stripes, Black, Sanders, Pats, Eagles

1 » During a post-practice media availability Thursday, defensive line coach Dan McCarney said that Florida Gators freshmen wide receiver Robert Clark (first) and linebackers Michael Taylor and Neiron Ball were the first three youngsters to have their black helmet stripes removed. This is a tradition each fall.

2 » Ever since he decided to stay for his senior season, safety Ahmad Black has been talking about becoming a better leader for his teammates. Black expanded on that sentiment during Florida Media Day on Tuesday, explaining how things have changed during his college career. “As a freshman, I thought it was going to be handed to me and it wasn’t,” he said. “I just had to learn to go hard and show that I really belong here. […] I am trying to step up. I have to. I am one of the few seniors that we have on defense and one of the guys that has been there for a while. It is my job to help these young guys and help them do what they are supposed to do.” Black also talked about asking now-New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes for advice. “Me and Spikes would be sitting down playing a video game, and I would ask him, ‘What do I have to do to get the guys to respect me? What do I have to do to get the guys to listen to me? Just him having a conversation with me helped me out.”

3 » Also of note post-practice was senior defensive tackle Terron Sanders’ admission that he was contacted either by an agent or a runner for an agent at the tail end of last season via multiple text messages to his cell phone. Sanders explained that he and the team “nipped that in the bud,” according to multiple reporters.

Three more BITS including Madden NFL 11 rankings and updates on Gators on the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Stripes, Black, Sanders, Pats, Eagles

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FOUR BITS: Wright, Crowder, Haden, Eagles

1 » Since returning to Chicago Bears training camp after sitting out for almost a week with a tweaked groin, rookie safety Major Wright has been turning some heads and is pushing his way into a starting role with the team. Though he is currently listed as the team’s No. 2 free safety on its first depth chart, Wright has been working with the first team and was around the ball all day on Monday (even though he dropped two sure interceptions, the team was pleased that he was in the position to make them).

2 » If we have told you once, we have told you a hundred times: Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder is the best interview in the NFL. On Monday, Crowder spoke about talking trash to his rivals. “[I say] how I feel about them, their mothers, their girlfriends, their wives, their kids, their dogs, their greasy grandma, whatever pops into my mind,” Crowder said. “The league calls me on Mondays and talks to me about the interesting conversations I was having on the field.”

He even had choice words for ex-teammate now New York Jets LB Jason Taylor. “I just want to see JT [on HBO’s Hard Knocks] and laugh at him,” he said. “I talked to him the other night and I was making fun of him, so I just want to see him out there embarrass himself. […] He’s a real pretty boy. He had makeup with Dancing with the Stars and all that, so he might put on makeup. He’s gonna perform. Trust me. You can mark that. JT is not going to be himself. He’s gonna perform for the cameras, ‘cause he’s a showman. That’s what I give him a hard time about – he’s going to be as clean as he can, he’s gonna have a freshly-shaved head, ‘cause the camera is around. He’s very womanly.”

3 » Cleveland Browns cornerback Eric Wright appeared to injure his hamstring during morning practice on Tuesday. While the team waits to find out exactly what is wrong with him, possibly an injury that may keep him out for the short-term, rookie first-round pick Joe Haden will be playing with the first team.

4 » The Philadelphia Daily News caught up with former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper and tight end Cornelius Ingram and asked both players about the hazing haircut given to Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow. “I love it. I think he should keep it. No, I’m kidding, the haircut was awful,” Cooper said. “You know what, Riley actually showed me about three days ago on the phone,” Ingram added. “I thought it was a [fake]. I really didn’t think it was a real photo. Now that it’s out now, they at least could have gave him a better cut than that, though. It looked bad. It looked bad.” Cooper, who is competing with veteran WR Hank Baskett for the Eagles’ fourth receiver spot, is currently listed as a back-up on the team’s first depth chart.

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FOUR BITS: Patriots, Cooper, McCray, McGarity

1 » Perhaps none of the former Florida Gators who are now rookies in the NFL are having more success than the trio drafted by the New Engalnd Patriots – defensive end/linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, LB Brandon Spikes and tight end Aaron Hernandez. Word out of Patriots camp is that all three are shining and will get on the field plenty. Cunningham and Spikes continue to work with the first-team defense and could be penciled in as starters when the season begins. “Jermaine has picked up things very well,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “I think each day you can definitely see him getting better, more confident, understanding things that happened the day before and being able to process that.” ESPNBoston.com‘s Mike Reiss broke down their progress:

Read more about the Patriots’ rookies and three additional BITS on Riley Cooper, Bobby McCray and Greg McGarity…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Patriots, Cooper, McCray, McGarity

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SIX BITS: Jackson, Cooper, James, Moss, Pouncey

1 » Tuesday, OGGOA noted that former Florida Gators wide receiver Chad Jackson has been quite impressive during Buffalo Bills training camp. In the team’s evening session, Jackson continued his upward climb, drawing this statement from head coach Chan Gailey in his post-practice press conference. “The guy comes out to play every day,” Gailey said. “It looks like he’s made up his mind that he wants to be a very good football player. I think that bouncing around [from team to team] is not what he intended for his career and I think he’s decided to go out and make himself the position. He’s been impressive.” There are murmurs throughout camp that Jackson has a legitimate shot to begin the season as the team’s starting No. 2 receiver opposite Lee Evans.

2 » Speaking of former Gators pass catchers getting a chance to impress, Philadelphia Eagles rookie Riley Cooper is set to get more snaps with the first team now that both starters – DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin – are out with injuries. Philadelphia beat writers are already of the belief that Cooper will begin the season as Maclin’s back-up, and now he has the opportunity to prove he can be an adequate replacement.

3 » Word out of Indianapolis Colts training camp is also positive for undrafted free agent rookie Brandon James. Being utilized extensively on special teams, James is also getting the opportunity to catch passes and run reverse plays. He appears to be a shoe-in to get past first cuts and many of those covering the team believes he has the chance to be a Leon Washington- or Darren Sproles-like piece for the Colts in 2010.

Three more BITS on Moss, Pouncey and Taylor…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Jackson, Cooper, James, Moss, Pouncey

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TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

1 » Signing his rookie contract Thursday, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow got his first taste of practice with the Denver Broncos on Friday in front of some reporters. Things were different Sunday at the team’s first public training camp event, as 3,103 Broncos fans packed the Dove Valley facility (the most since it opened in 2003) to get a glimpse of the former Heisman Trophy winner (and the rest of the team). [Another 1,891 attended in the afternoon, setting both session records and a one-day total of 4,994.] The Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Center was “almost at full capacity with fans sitting shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the practice field.”

The Denver Post describes one notable moment: “During seven-on-seven drills, Tebow worked in the rotation to completed a 40-yard pass to Matthew Willis on a fly route. The crowd cheered and some stood to their feet, as if the season had already begun.” There were also chants of “Te-bow! Te-bow!” during portions of the practice. In fact, “Tebow received cheers for everything he did,” according to the Post. “For walking out of the locker room, handing the ball off or tossing a short screen pass. And especially for every time he tucked the ball under his arm and ran through the Broncos’ defense.”

Two Denver players – one a fellow Florida alum and another from Georgia – had their own thoughts on the festivities off the field.

“It’s darn near like Gainesville. It feels the same way,” former Gators defensive end/linebacker Jarvis Moss said. “I don’t know too many people who have fans like Tim. You can’t think of too many people who people just love like that.” Countering but still agreeing was a Bulldog. “You’ve got to think he’s the most marketable guy in the league right now so he’s definitely going to that attention. The only knock on him is he went to Florida,” cornerback Champ Bailey added.

Two BITS on Percy Harvin’s health and a fight started by Riley Cooper…
Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Tebowmania in Denver, Harvin’s injury

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SIX BITS: Wilder, Smith, Harvin, Ingram, Heat, golf

1 » Though he did not commit to the team as was rumored late last week due to a falsified e-mail, five-star athlete James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) does have a leader: the Florida Gators are the “team to beat,” according to Rivals’s Mark Wheeler. “Sources say [his upcoming visits are] more to confirm his choice of Florida than anything else,” Wheeler wrote. “Wilder Jr. is enthused that Florida looks to be moving to a more traditional power running game.” In addition to recruiting fullbacks, the Gators are “expected to still feature the dive play and many inside and off-tackle running plays, but instead of [Tim] Tebow carrying the ball, Wilder would be the guy. Throw in his comfort level at Florida as well as that of his family, and the Gators will be tough to beat.”

2 » Former Florida running back Emmitt Smith has done plenty in his career. An inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, he holds NFL career records for rushing yards (18,355), rushing touchdowns (164) and 100+ yard rushing games (78). The eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl champion was also the 1989 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and is a member of the Gators’ Ring of Honor. But where he may have made his biggest impact is at Escambia High School, where he began his legacy. The Florida High School Athletic Association Player of the Century, Smith was not only a great player, his presence at the school helped ease racial tensions. “I wasn’t thinking about any racial tensions when I got to Escambia,” Smith told the Canton Repository. “It never dawned on me that I was part of a transformation at the school. I knew Escambia had a negative past, but I saw it was over and done with. I had played with white guys, black guys, all kinds of guys. Maybe that was me being naive.”

Four more BITS on Percy Harvin’s charity work, Cornelius Ingram’s knee, Gators on the Miami Heat and The Open Championship…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Wilder, Smith, Harvin, Ingram, Heat, golf

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Eagles sign WR Riley Cooper to four-year deal

The Philadelphia Eagles and former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper agreed to terms Tuesday on a four-year rookie contract. Selected in the 159th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Cooper is the third of nine University of Florida players selected in April to officially sign his NFL deal. His contract is worth $1.962 million, and Cooper will receive a $171,500 signing bonus.

“The guy’s a ball player. I’m not surprised he came up and had a great mini camp,” former Gators tight end and Eagles teammate Cornelius Ingram told OGGOA about watching Cooper workout last month. “I’m pretty excited for what he has going on, too.”

Cooper will try to earn a spot as one of the team’s reserve receivers during training camp; he will likely fill Philadelphia’s No. 4 receiver slot or end up playing special teams if he is beat out by another player. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant have all locked down starting jobs this season.

Safety Major Wright, drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round, and tight end Aaron Hernandez, picked up by the New England Patriots in the fourth round, have each already agreed to terms with their respective clubs.

OGGOA will update this story as more information is made available.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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