Entering his fourth year in the league, and now on his third team, Buccaneers wide receiver Tiquan Underwood is trying to find his place in an already crowded Tampa Bay receivers group.
Buccaneers wide receiver Tiquan Underwood is best known more for his unusual hair style and being cut by the Patriots last season on the eve of their Super Bowl matchup with the New York Giants, than any accomplishments on the field.
Despite an uphill battle to move up the depth chart, the former Rutgers star is working hard to find a niche that will help him stick on Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster.
“In this league, the more that you can do, the better, so try just to not limit yourself,” Underwood said. “Just be able to play inside and outside and whatever you have to do to be able to help the team. That’s the way to go and that’s the approach that I’m going to take.
“It brings about competition. Once you get past V-Jax (Vincent Jackson), it’s just a bunch of younger guys trying to make a name for themselves in this league.”
Underwood, who has just 11 career NFL receptions for 141 yards, is striving to use what he learned during his time in New England, and what his current teammates can provide, in order to become a better receiver.
“We have Vincent (Jackson), who’s a veteran that has been playing for a while,” Underwood said. “We have a nice mixture of veterans and younger guys, and each day we try to come out and get better, push each other and just learn from each others' mistakes to get better as a unit.
“Playing in New England last year really taught me to be a professional. It was an older receiving corps with guys that were established, but to tie the two together from here to there, I would say the work ethic [is similar]. Both teams have guys that want to get better each day and I tip my hat off to the guys here. They’re a younger group, but they’re hungry and we all are as a group. I noticed that on both ends of the spectrum.”
Underwood was a standout receiver while playing for head coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, highlighted by a monster junior year in which the New Jersey native caught 65 passes for 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns. Having played for both Schiano and New England head coach Bill Belichick, Underwood can appreciate the similarities both coaches share.
“There are a little bit of similarities but at the end of the day, they’re both head coaches and both have their own beliefs and own styles,” Underwood said. “As a coach you have to do what you like and do what’s best for your team. I believe they both do a great job with that.
I just like the attitude coach [Schiano] is taking and the direction he’s going with the team. It’s very promising and it’s all about hard work and I want to be a part of that.”
Schiano told the media that Underwood is in the mix – but from here in out it is up to him.
“No. 1, I know him as a person,” Schiano said. “He has the core values that I think we’re looking for as a person. No. 2, he can run. There’s different kinds of speed. He can do it. I know he’ll work hard.
“Will he make the team? I don’t know. That’s up to him. But he certainly has done a good job and dove right in full force. It’s fun to see a guy leave as a senior and then have the experience of pro football. He’s become a pro. It’s fun to see.”
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