Lined up in the backfield on Friday night for the first time since Jan. 1 was running back Jeff Demps, who carried the ball three times for 41 yards (long: 29) for the New England Patriots in the team's third preseason game. Demps was also targeted three times in the passing game and returned the ball three times (two kickoffs for a total of 44 yards, one punt for 16 yards) during the contest. Though he played exclusively with New England's second and third strings (that probably will not change in the fourth preseason contest when the Patriots will rest all of their starters), Demps is expected to make the 53-man roster and be a contributing factor to the team this season.
It was reported on Tuesday by NFL.com's Bryan McIntyre that Demps was paid handsomely by New England considering he is an undrafted free agent. He received an $11,000 signing bonus for joining the team as well as a first-year salary of $390,000 including $200,000 guaranteed. "The total of $211,000 in guaranteed money is the second-largest sum given to a 2012 undrafted free agent," McIntyre wrote. Though Demps's agent told me directly that opportunity was more important than contract value when all was said and done, it appears as if Demps got both from the Patriots.
Now set to return to Dancing With the Stars for an all-star competition, former Florida running back Emmitt Smith is still healthy and having a great time in retirement. However, he also told SportingNews this week that he is worried about how he will hold up health-wise as he gets older, especially considering the rash of players experiencing dementia and other serious brain-related problems years after hanging up their helmet. "Knowing what has started to come out in terms of the evidence of guys having mental issues right now, it concerns me, especially when you've carried the football more than anybody else in the national Football league and have more yardage than anybody in the National Football League," he said. "That means I probably got hit more than anyone in the National Football League, so why shouldn't I be concerned?"
In contract information released on Monday by the University of Florida to the Associated Press, Gainesville Sun and other media outlets, the Gators have decided to give bonuses, raises and/or contract extensions five football coaches. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn received an $80,000 bonus and became the team's highest paid assistant after getting his salary raised $20,000 to $510,000 per year. (He is also set to receive another $80,000 bonus if he remains with the team through 2013). Linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin got a $100,000 raise to $340,000 for each of the next two seasons. Running backs coach Brian White, who was passed over for the offensive coordinator job this offseason, got his annual salary raised $50,000 to $290,000, and both tight ends coach Derek Lewis and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson had their contracts extended through this season.
Not expecting anything but to have a fair shot in training camp, new Washington Wizards guard Brad Beal is set to begin practicing with the team in five weeks but is already thinking ahead to how he will handle the situation. "I just want to come in and try to earn everything," he told the Washington Post on Wednesday. "I don't want anything given to me. I want to earn everything and show these guys that I'm a hard worker and a winner. You know we have a young team, but we have a few vets as well and I just want to come in and try to set the tone and try to get this team back on a winning pace."
Gators soccer and volleyball were both in action on Friday though both teams will play additional contests this weekend (more on that early next week). Soccer, which is unranked after getting thrashed 4-1 by Miami in its season opener, took No. 14 North Carolina to a 0-0 tie through two overtimes, the first draw the Gators soccer team had registered since 2010. No. 18 volleyball, on the other hand, swept Florida International 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-12) on the first day of the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational, which concludes on Saturday with two more games for the Gators.