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Saturday, December 03, 2022

Gators in the NFL: Former UF receivers score TDs, Bullard earns sack

Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the anthem overshadowed an even more surprising narrative on the 49ers’ sideline this week: The re-emergence of Jeff Driskel. But setting Driskel aside for a moment, Florida’s receivers, defensive rookies and veterans came through for their teams in Week 3 of the NFL preseason.

Driskel — a former Florida quarterback who transferred to Louisiana Tech — captured significant playing time in Friday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. Driskel came in to start the second half and threw for 43 yards on 4 of 8 attempts for San Francisco. He also rushed for 17 yards on two attempts and was sacked once for an eight-yard loss.

Driskel probably wished he had his old teammate Trey Burton running routes for him on Friday. In a matchup against the Colts over the weekend, Philadelphia's Burton caught a team-high five passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Eagles QB Sam Bradford found Burton on a third-and-goal play that left the tight end open on the left flat for an easy 3-yard touchdown reception.

Burton wasn’t the only Gator tight end to find the endzone in preseason Week 3. Redskins star Jordan Reed hooked up with Washington QB Kirk Cousins for a 20-yard touchdown pass Friday night. Reed finished with two catches for 28 total yards for the game. Fellow Redskin receiver and former Gator Quinton Dunbar also recovered a fumble.

Chiefs receiver Frankie Hammond also caught attention over the weekend. The undrafted veteran caught three passes on three targets for 50 yards in a Saturday win over the Bears.

Despite the Bears’ loss, Chicago’s Jonathan Bullard had a big day. The rookie totaled three solo tackles with two tackles for a loss and a sack on Chiefs’ backup Aaron Murray.

Bullard was one of three Florida rookies to have an impact in Week 3. Former secondary tandem Vernon Hargreaves and Keanu Neal both showed up for their new NFC South employers. Hargreaves had two solo tackles in the Bucs’ route of the Browns, and Neal racked up five solo tackles with one being a tackle for a loss. Unfortunately for the Falcons’ new safety, Neal injured his knee after missing a tackle on Miami’s Arian Foster and is expected to sit out three to four weeks.

While Florida’s defensive rookies played well over the weekend, Florida’s defensive veterans on the Vikings put on a show. In a 23-10 win over the Chargers, defensive end Justin Trattou made five solo tackles, including a tackle for loss and two sacks. Fellow defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd tacked on another two tackles during the Sunday matchup.

In special teams news, Florida fans in Philadelphia were reminded of what it’s like to have a reliable kicker. Caleb Sturgis went two for two in a win over the Cowboys Saturday, knocking home field goals from 32 and 47 yards out.

Florida fans will be able to watch Hargreaves and the Bucs try to cover Reed and his Redskins in a rescheduled Week 4 game tonight at 8 p.m.

Contact Matt Brannon at mbrannon@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @MattB_727.

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