NFL Gator Update

Former Gators under Urban Meyer have been making a name for themselves in the National Football League, and members of last year's senior class are doing the same. David Nelson, Maurkice Pouncey, and Brandon Spikes are pushing for starting jobs, while Tim Tebow continues to impress.

Nelson Pushes for Starting Job- David Nelson watched all seven rounds of the NFL Draft waiting to hear his name. It never came. However, the situation he found may have worked out much better.

He signed shortly after the draft with the Buffalo Bills. With Terrell Owens not returning to the team, there is a wide receiver position available across from Lee Evans. Former second round pick James Hardy was expected to win the job, but he came into minicamp out of shape, expecting to get in shape throughout the training. Steve Johnson was given a chance to win the job, but Nelson is still in the running. The Bills haven't come to decision on who will start.

If nothing else, Nelson's performance has earned him some playing time for the Bills. His advanced blocking skills and versatility to play every receiver position makes him attractive in an NFL system.

Tebow Continues to Impress- The Denver quarterback made an impression on teammates and coaches with, what else, his work ethic and willingness to learn. He showed up to camp and immediately impressed.

Now he is locked into a three-quarterback battle for the starting position. Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tim Tebow will continue battling it out for the starting job, one that will lead the Broncos into Jacksonville to open the season. Tebow recently moved up the depth chart above former Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater, who was later released and picked up by the Indianapolis Colts.

Denver Post columnist Woody Paige has already claimed Tebow as the rookie who will have the biggest impact on the Broncos.

Spikes After Starting Spot- The former Gator middle linebacker is pushing Gary Guyton for a starting position on the inside of the New England Patriots' 3-4 defense. The Boston Herald has already written about who deserves the starting position more, but Guyton recently signed a two-year contract extension.

Other Patriots beat writers have suggested a move to the outside could be coming for Guyton, allowing Spikes to start.

During OTAs, the Patriot coaches purposely threw as much information as possible at Spikes to see how he handled it. They forced to him make pre-snap adjustments and call defenses.

He could be paired at inside linebacker with former Tennessee Volunteer Jerod Mayo. The two have already had fun with their college rivalry.

"He was a great player at Florida," Mayo told NESN. "Those are kind of our rivals, if you want to call it that, even though they beat us the last, about, five times. I wouldn't really call it a rivalry right now at this present time, but he was a good player in college."

Cunningham Adjusts- The Patriots took Jermaine Cunningham to be a hybrid in their 3-4 sets. He played defensive end all four years in college for the Gators, and recorded 19.5 sacks in three seasons as a starter. He is a natural at getting to the quarterback, something the New England defense struggled to do last season.

Most of Cunningham's snaps are expected to come from the outside linebacker position. Tully Banta-Cain had a breakout season for the Patriots last year, and he could take one of the outside linebacker positions.

If Guyton stays as an inside linebacker, there could be an open starting position for Cunningham. If Guyton moves outside, it could be Spikes who takes the starting job on the inside. It looks likely that one Gator will start at linebacker for the Patriots, but two at this point may be a stretch.

Pouncey Pushes to Start- The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Maurkice Pouncey to bolster an offensive line that was getting up in years. He has already brought plenty of versatility and has become a candidate to start at multiple positions.

Pouncey started his Florida career at guard before moving to center, and those are the two spots he has lined up at for Pittsburgh. Head coach Mike Tomlin said last month that he is a candidate to start at right guard, but he could start at center as well.

"I think that he has proven to be mature beyond his years," Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "His level of football maturity probably exceeds that of some 20-year-old first-round picks that we have had of recent years, like Lawrence Timmons and Rashard Mendenhall. He's got good football maturity. It's been a pleasant surprise. He's been comfortable at guard and center."

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