2 BITS: McDonald arrested; Patton, Demps signed

1 » San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, a seven-year NFL veteran who just last week restructured his contract, was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of felony domestic violence. According to NBC Bay Area reporter Damian Trujillo, who broke the story on Twitter, the San Jose Police Department confirmed McDonald was arrested at approximately 2:45 a.m. when officers were called to a residence. Trujillo, citing sources, further reports that the alleged domestic violence victim is pregnant. This is the second time in his professional career that McDonald has been arrested for a felony; he was first popped for driving under the influence in 2010.

Three days ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced harsher penalties for players and league employees involved in domestic violence or sexual assault incidents. A six-game suspension will be handed down to first offenders with a second violation resulting in an indefinite suspension that could on appeal last at least one season but may potentially be a lifetime ban. McDonald will be the first player testing these rules, though it is not known when or how the league will choose to hand down these penalties. With Goodell and the league under so much scrutiny following the seemingly slap-on-a-wrist two-game suspension dealt to running back Ray Rice, there is more pressure than ever for the NFL to act swiftly in these situations.

2 » Wide receiver Solomon Patton and running back Jeff Demps were two of three former Florida Gators players cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday. Both players have since cleared waivers and will now be signed to the team’s practice squad, according to Tampa Tribune beat writer Roy Cummings. Safety Major Wright, also cut by the Bucs, was one of four other Gators that received their walking papers on Saturday. The others included offensive linemen Jon Halapio (New England) and Maurice Hurt (Washington) and defensive end Justin Trattou (Minnesota).

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Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 4 + Cuts

The 2014 NFL preseason continued on Thursday with 44 former Florida Gators spread out over 22 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fourteen teams had multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 24 players that saw action along with select updates on some Gators during the fourth week of the preseason.

NFL teams were forced to make final cuts on Saturday as they pared down their rosters to 53 players. Six former Florida players were cut on Saturday, and one more on Sunday, leaving 37 on rosters heading into Week 1 of the regular season.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

TE TREY BURTON*, Philadelphia Eagles: Six receptions [team-high] for 45 yards (targets: 6, long: 21), touchdown
» An undrafted free agent, Burton made Philadelphia’s 53-man roster.
WR SOLOMON PATTON*, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Two receptions for 34 yards [team-high] (targets: 6, long: 25), touchdown; two kickoff returns for 39 yards (long: 20); punt return for nine yards
» Patton, an undrafted free agent, was cut by the Bucs on Saturday.

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 4 + Cuts

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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 3

The 2014 NFL preseason continued with 46 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fifteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 36 players that saw action along with select updates on some Gators during the third week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

DE JAYE HOWARD, Kansas City Chiefs: Started | solo tackle, sack, forced fumble (safety)

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 3

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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 2

The 2014 NFL preseason continued with 46 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fifteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 35 players that saw action along with select updates on some Gators during the second week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR Deonte Thompson: Target; three kickoff returns for 188 yards, touchdown (108-yard return)

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 2

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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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FOUR BITS: Nelson, Bucs, ESPYS, Zunino

1 » The New York Post’s Brian Costello believes David Nelson is poised to open the 2014 season as the New York Jets’s No. 2 wide receiver after evaluating him during organized team activities and minicamp. Nelson, who missed nearly the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL and was cut by Cleveland in the 2013 offseason as he mounted a return, signed with New York four weeks into the campaign. He finished with 36 receptions for 423 yards and two touchdowns while catching passes from underwhelming rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Nelson has proven to be a reliable target in the NFL, catching 62 percent of the passes thrown his way in his three full seasons despite never even having a mid-tier signal caller throwing him the ball.

2 » With running back Jeff Demps, WR Louis Murphy, WR Solomon Patton and safety Major Wright all on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster, the latter three signed as free agents this offseason, suddenly the team has four former Florida Gators playing just over 150 miles from Gainesville, Florida. The Buccaneers recognized this and put together an interview / highlight video [Watch] with the three former Gators who are teammates for the first time since winning the 2009 BCS Championship.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Nelson, Bucs, ESPYS, Zunino

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Florida Gators WR coach Joker Phillips resigns; Chris Leak to coach wide receivers

Updated on Thursday at 5:15 p.m.

After just one year on the job, wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips has resigned from his position with the Florida Gators.

Graduate assistant Chris Leak, a four-year starter at quarterback and national championship-winning signal caller for the Gators in 2006, will take over coaching the position as a full-time staff member.

The second African-American head football coach in Southeastern Conference history, Phillips spent most of his 26-year coaching career with Kentucky before he was fired by the program during the 2012 season, his third as the Wildcats’ head coach.

He joined Gators head coach Will Muschamp’s staff that December, signing a two-year contract that was supposed to keep him at Florida through the 2014 campaign.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity that the University of Florida and Will Muschamp provided to me and my family, but at this time I have decided to step down from my position on the UF coaching staff for personal reasons,” he said in a school release.

Neither Phillips nor UF provided any specific reason for his departure, though ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy, citing a source, noted Phillips “resigned because of possible recruiting violations.” McMurphy retracted prior assertions that Phillips was forced to resign whether by Muschamp or someone else at the school.

FootballScoop.com‘s Scott Roussel cited a separate source which said “the issue at hand is a ‘bump’ [with] a [high school] junior” and that Phillips was “turned in by another program in Florida.” A “bump” in college recruiting is when a coach converses with a high school recruit outside of the allowable time periods at a “chance encounter,” whether the interaction was intended by the coach or not.

A source close to the program confirmed to OnlyGators.com that Phillips was indeed turned into the NCAA for a “bump” violation by a representative of Miami but could not say whether that incident led to his resignation.

Thursday update: Charles Robinson and Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports report that Phillips’s resignation came on the heels of the NCAA receiving “a photo of the coach sitting in a restaurant with a high school recruit during a mandated dead period in recruiting.” Citing three sources, the duo further reports that “the photo was turned over to the NCAA by an individual with ties to the Miami Hurricanes athletics program. Should the NCAA determine Phillips improperly recruited during a mandated dead period, it could be considered a major NCAA violation.”

Read the rest of the original story…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida Gators WR coach Joker Phillips resigns; Chris Leak to coach wide receivers

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Seven Gators agree to undrafted free agent deals

Updated on Thursday, May 22 at 3:30 p.m.

Former Florida Gators cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, wide receiver Solomon Patton, “tight end” Trey Burton, center Jonotthan Harrison, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and linebacker Darrin Kitchens each agreed to undrafted free agent deals with teams shortly after the 2014 NFL Draft.

Purifoy and Roberson, who were both expected to be selected in the draft, wound up agreeing to deals with teams just 250 miles away from each other on Monday. Purifoy (#7) inked a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, the team announced, while Roberson (#47) reached an agreement with the St. Louis Rams.

Purifoy joins running back Chris Rainey, offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (a 2013 undrafted free agent) and Harrison (#72), who was picked up after the draft, on the Colts.

Roberson links up fellow former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins on the Rams after inking a three-year, $1.55 million deal including a $15,000 signing bonus.

Patton (#86) was snagged as a priority free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he will join wide receiver Louis Murphy and running back Jeff Demps. He signed a three-year, $1.54 million contract with a $9,000 signing bonus.

Burton (#47) was quick to come to an agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles and will be teammates with WR Riley Cooper and CB Jaylen Watkins, the team’s selection with the first pick of the fourth round, No. 101 overall.

He also signed a three-year, $1.54 million deal, receiving a $7,500 signing bonus as part of $20,000 in total guaranteed money from the Eagles.

The Buffalo Bills did not have a single Florida player on their team entering the 2014 offseason but will enter minicamp with three, signing veteran LB Brandon Spikes and adding both Jacobs and Kitchens as undrafted free agents.

Gators offensive lineman Kyle Koehne was not picked up by a team but did receive a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons.

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