FOUR BITS: Nelson, Bucs, ESPYS, Zunino

By Adam Silverstein
June 25, 2014

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.

3 » Two former Florida student-athletes are up for 2014 ESPYS. Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, fresh off a career year in which he was named 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year (among other honors), will go head-to-head with Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and LeBron James for Best NBA Player. Right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers, who led Gators softball to its first ever NCAA National Championship this spring, is up for Best Female College Athlete against Morgan Brian (soccer), Taylor Cummings (lacrosse), Micha Hancock (volleyball) and Breanna Stewart (basketball). Fans can vote for all 33 ESPY awards by clicking here. It is the fourth-straight year that a former Florida player has been nominated for an ESPY. Should Noah or Rogers win, they would join Abby Wambach (Best Play, 2011) and Tim Tebow (Best Moment, 2012) as recent winners, making it three (or four) total for the Gators in the last four years.

4 » Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has made a lot of BITS recently and for good reason as he smacked a massive home run on Tuesday for the third time in his last four games (two of which went 418 feet or longer). Zunino is 6/16 (.375) since June 20 with five runs but just three RBIs as each of his dingers was a solo shot. He leads all American League catchers with 10 homers this season, which is also tied for the third-most in all of MLB behind with Arizona’s Miguel Montero but behind Atlanta’s Evan Gattis (16) and Cincinnati’s Devin Mesoraco (14).

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