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: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

1 » OnlyGators.com learned Wednesday night that Florida Gators seniors cornerback Jaylen Watkins and wide receiver Solomon Patton have both signed with agent Tom Santanello of Boca Raton, FL. Santanello, who inked defensive tackle Dominique Easley in November, also represents two other former Florida players – safety Josh Evans and tight end Jordan Reed. Watkins and Patton will join Easley as he trains in Boca Raton over the next few months as all three players look to get in the best possible shape before their workouts.

2 » A late-second to early-third day pick, Watkins is hoping to raise his stock immensely before the 2014 NFL Draft and has accepted an invitation to the 2014 Senior Bowl in an effort to do just that. Many NFL personnel people already believe that Watkins has a superior skill set to junior CB Loucheiz Puriofy albeit a lower ceiling due to Purifoy’s ridiculous athleticism and penchant for highlight-making plays. Joining Watkins at the Senior Bowl (so far) is redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio. Easley was also invited but will be unable to do so as he continues to recover from his torn ACL.

A source close to Easley tells OnlyGators.com that there are currently no plans for the player to participate in the 2014 NFL Combine or Pro Day at Florida. However, as he continues to heal and regain strength in his knee, anything is certainly possible. Easley does plan to at least hold a private workout prior to the draft.

Check out four more BITS on Gators in the NFL…after the break!

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: agents, Senior Bowl, Easley, NFL moves

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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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Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

The 2013 NFL regular season is exactly one month away from kicking off on Thursday, Sept. 5.

More than three dozen former Florida Gators are currently working out with their respective teams and trying to either keep or earn roster spots for the upcoming year.

Below are select updates on some of these Gators for the second full week of training camp from July 28 to Aug. 4.

The Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys squared off during the 2013 Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game, in Canton, OH, on Sunday night.

RB MIKE GILLISLEE*, Miami Dolphins: Seven carries for 21 yards (long: 9)
LB JELANI JENKINS*, Miami Dolphins: Two tackles
C MIKE POUNCEY, Miami Dolphins: Started Hall of Fame Game
K CALEB STURGIS*, Miami Dolphins: Did not play – groin

QB TIM TEBOW, New England Patriots: Though cameras caught Tebow hauling in passes and protecting the ball in a drill last week, he will be nothing but a quarterback for the Patriots, according to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “He’s just practicing his open-field running,” McDaniels said. “We know Tim has a skill set that some of these other guys don’t possess in terms of ability to run with it, scramble with it when he has it in his hands. … He’s put in a lot of time and effort to improve his individual skill set to play the position of quarterback in our offense, and I think every day is a learning tool for him.” Tebow has also received a nod from starter Tom Brady. “We have good conversations,” Brady said, according to the Associated Press. “He loves playing football and that’s usually the type of guys who do well here.”

Read updates on seven other former Gators…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: 7/28 – 8/4

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Haden, Halapio, Hines

1 » Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he will have surgery on his torn hip labrum and be out of action for the foreseeable future. Harvin, who got injured in the offseason and will go under the knife on Thursday, inked a six-year, $67 million contract with the Seahawks, which traded multiple picks including a first rounder to the Minnesota Vikings for his rights. “When everything is goin good sometimes life throw u a curve ball…sorry to [have] to report that my injury will require surgery…” he tweeted. “Nobody was more anxious and excited about [the] season [than I]…but I will be back strong as ever..i appreciate all the love and prayers.”

Team doctors initially believed that Harvin would be able to rehabilitate the injury without surgery, but a second opinion on Tuesday led him to decide that surgery was the best option. He is expected to miss 3-4 months of action and has an outside chance at returning for the final four weeks of the regular season. Seattle’s options include putting Harvin on the physical unable to perform list or placing him on the injured list and marking him as “designated to return.”

If Harvin goes on the PUP list to start the regular season, he would automatically miss the first six games. The recently revised rule would require him to be activated by the start of Week 15, or Harvin would automatically be ineligible for the remainder of the season. Placing him on the IR with the aforementioned designation would allow Harvin to return to practice in Week 7 or start playing in Week 9 but not penalize the team if he remained out of action longer. It may give the Seahawks greater roster flexibility, but the designation can only be used for one player per year, so Seattle may choose to hold onto the option for someone else at a later date.

2 » Entering his fourth NFL season, the time is now for Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden to truly break out and become a superstar in the league. According to 850 WKNR ESPN Radio in Cleveland, OH, he may be on the cusp of doing just that.

So far in camp, he has consistently dominated one-on-one drills against wide receivers, which is almost impossible to do, deflected about a dozen passes, has an interception, and has made five or six “superstar” type plays.

Haden is blossoming right in front of our eyes and it is exciting to see.

Haden only played 11 games last season, missing four (and losing $1.856 million) due to a suspension he received after testing positive for Adderall. Married in the offseason, Haden believes he is now more mature and sees 2013 as a fresh start. “[The suspension] was a humbling thing. It was one of the lowest points,” he said. “Last year was last year. What happened is in the past. […] I feel like I honestly owe the team, I owe myself, I owe the fans, I owe the Browns just everything I’ve got this year to keep going and just be elite and hold things down.”

3 » Florida Gators redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio is drawing rave reviews as a 2014 NFL Draft prospect, which is not surprising because sources close to the league that OnlyGators.com spoke to revealed that Halapio would have been a second-day pick had he come out last season. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who was watching Florida-LSU film from 2012, tweeted early Tuesday morning that Halapio “has crazy upper strength.” He continued. “I counted 13 knockdowns against LSU and several were pure flat-backs. Nasty dude.” Later Tuesday, Jeremiah named Halapio among his top five most physical players in college football.

Halapio is a nasty football player, and I mean that as a sincere complement. He has outstanding upper and lower strength and he is a violent finisher. In the run game, he locks on with his powerful hands and uses his leg-drive to wash defenders down the line of scrimmage before depositing them on the ground. In the pass game, he loves to utilize the snatch move. He sets wide, grabs the defender’s chest and pulls them face first into the ground. He has the ideal temperament for an interior offensive lineman.

4 » Wide receiver Omarius Hines, an undrafted free agent signed by the Baltimore Ravens after the draft but cut from the team last Monday, has been signed by the Green Bay Packers, which have a penchant for getting great production out of undervalued pass catchers. The Packers are lacking depth at receiver, and he is expected to have a great opportunity to prove his worth throughout the preseason.

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FOUR BITS: Harvin, Hill, Beal, Zunino

1 » Though he will officially get a second opinion about his injured hip on Tuesday, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin is expected to be able to avoid surgery. According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, the “conservative Seahawks doctors … believe the injury isn’t season-threatening” and are allowing him to get a specialist to look at his hip as a method of showing their trust in the player. “Percy’s a confidence player – he needs to feel good about his condition and himself,” a “Seattle source” told King. “This time should give him the best chance to feel right entering the season.” Harvin may (1) not need surgery, just a cortisone shot and some rest, (2) need minor surgery that would force him to miss some time, or (3) need season-ending surgery, which is considered doubtful at this point. This may be about Harvin being a “confidence player,” but it may also be about Harvin following his career-long trend of doing whatever he believes is necessary to sit out training camps and practices.

2 » New York Giants safety Will Hill candidly admitted on Sunday that his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy was for a positive marijuana test from last season. Hill said he failed more than one test and appealed the suspension but ultimately lost. He later explained that he started using drugs again because he felt a massive amount of stress. “It’s from family members, to everyone reaching their hand out thinking I’m an ATM, and people who think you owe them something. It was just a situation where I was visiting my hometown and a guy pulled a shotgun out on me right there in a park for some money. How do you deal with those situations? You really can’t, so I just dealt with it the best way I knew how,” he said.

Hill said he has not used any drugs since his last positive test and accepted the Giants’ offer to send him to a rehabilitation facility in Boston, MA. He was in rehab in March and April and went to an outpatient facility in Parsippany, NJ. “I talked to the team and they just told me to keep on moving forward, keep being positive,” Hill said. “Just take the suspension and leave it at that and don’t’ have any more mishaps.”

3 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was unable to participate in USA Basketball’s most recent minicamp as he is still recovering from a stress fracture in his leg, but he told The Washington Post last week that he will continue to pursue representing his country and will remain involved with the program going forward. He also noted that, after three months on the shelf, he will begin participating in live contact work within the next week or two and will be 100 percent by the time his team’s training camp starts in approximately two months. “I have to take it slow. That’s the reason I didn’t participate [at Team USA minicamp]. I didn’t want to force the issue and end up being reinjured. Patience is definitely the key,” Beal said.

4 » Seattle Mariners rookie catcher Mike Zunino was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday after an MRI revealed he fractured the hamate bone in his left hand. Zunino will undergo surgery this week and is expected to miss six weeks while healing. Should he return to action after that timeframe, there would only be three weeks remaining in the regular season. He was hitting .242 with two home runs and 10 RBI in the first 29 games of his career before being injured on Thursday when he took a foul tip off his hand; he stayed in the game for three more innings.

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Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: July 21-27

The 2013 NFL season is just one week away from beginning with preseason action kicking off on Sunday, Aug. 4.

More than three dozen former Florida Gators are currently working out with their respective teams and trying to either keep or earn roster spots for the upcoming year.

Below are select updates on some of these Gators for the first full week of training camp from July 21-27.

QB TIM TEBOW, New England Patriots: His first full practice with his new team generated its fair share of excitement with some fans in attendance occasionally chanting his name. Though he is listed as the third-string quarterback – and therefore worked behind center in 11-on-11 drills during practice – Tebow also participated in drills where he caught the ball and attempted to break a tackle. In other words, New England may have more planned for him than head coach Bill Belichick wanted to admit initially. “I just do what I’m told and work as hard as I possibly can to do the best job I can with whatever I’m asked to do,” he said.

Comcast SportsNet‘s Patriots beat writer Tom E. Curran described Tebow’s practice as, in one word, “horrendous.”

After practice, Tebow was swarmed by the media and questioned about former Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez. “It’s just heartbreaking and sad, and all my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families that were involved,” he said. “I understand why you [the media] have to ask all the questions; that’s part of doing your job. Part of mine is listening to instruction, and we’ve been told not to talk about it.”

Tebow was happy to defend former Gators head coach Urban Meyer, however. “I feel like Coach Meyer is a great man, one of the best I’ve had the privilege of being around,” he said. “He is someone that not only tries to win football games, he’s someone that tries to invest in young men’s lives and help young men grow. He cares very deeply about that. That’s one of the reasons I’m so close to him and why I’m proud of him.”

Read updates on more than a dozen other former Gators…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gators in 2013 NFL training camps: July 21-27

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Bengals ink DE Dunlap to new six-year contract

Updated on Saturday, July 20 at 3 p.m.

The Cincinnati Bengals and former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap came to terms Monday on a brand new six-year contract that includes $40 million in base salary alone, according to Pro Football Talk.

Instead of earning just $630,000 in base salary on the final year of his rookie deal, he will earn $20 million between now and the conclusion of the 2014 season.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Joe Ready, Dunlap already received an $8 million signing bonus and will tack on $1.3 million in base salary for 2013. He will also pick up an additional $3.7 million when he reports to training camp this year and $5.7 million more as a roster bonus if he remains with the team on March 31, 2014.

Dunlap is also due a $300,000 annually via workout bonus and annual salaries of $1 million in 2014, $3 million in 2015, $4.05 million in 2016, $5.05 million in 2017 and $6.7 million in 2018. He can earn an additional $4.5 million in escalators.

A first-round talent who slipped to the second round and became the No. 54 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft due to some maturity concerns following a DUI arrest prior to the 2009 SEC Championship, Dunlap left Florida as a junior and came on strong during his rookie season in Cincinnati.

He registered 8.5 sacks in the final six games of the 2010 campaign and finished with 9.5 takedowns that year. Dunlap has been unable to duplicate that pass rushing success, totaling 10.5 sacks in the last two seasons, but he did force four fumbles (recovering three) in 2012 while also grabbing his first career interception and returning it 14 yards for a touchdown.

At just 24 years old, Dunlap’s ceiling remains high, and he is on the way to earning a full-time starting role with the Bengals.

Dunlap won OnlyGators.com’s NFL Player of the Week award four times in 2012, tied for second-most among Gators in the league last season.

He is the second former Florida player to sign a lucrative six-year contract in this offseason as wide receiver Percy Harvin inked a $67 million deal after being traded to the Seattle Seahawks.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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