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October 16, 2012 @ 9:49 am
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Maximizing Opportunities May Elevate Underwood

Written by Dory
LeBlanc
Dory LeBlanc

Dory
LeBlanc

Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Since re-signing with Tampa Bay in September, Tiquan Underwood has been a model of hard work, positive attitude, and maximizing opportunities. Those traits may have elevated Underwood to the legitimate third wide receiver in the Bucs' offense. 
When the Bucs’ 53-man roster was released, only two things were for certain when it came to Tampa Bay’s wide receiver corps; Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams were the two biggest weapons in Josh Freeman’s arsenal. After several roster moves, a third wideout has emerged as a go-to playmaker in the Bucs’ playbook.

Tiquan Underwood rejoined the team September 20th after falling victim to the final roster cuts three weeks prior. In his debut, Underwood was targeted only once – a seven-yarder in the Bucs’ final drive against the Cowboys. 

The following week, Underwood caught all three passes thrown at him for a total of 39 yards, but more importantly, his first two receptions were converted into first downs and the third brought kicker Connor Barth close enough to make a 47-yard field goal. 

This past Sunday, Underwood made two key plays, grabbing two of three targets. The first was a six-yard reception during Tampa Bay’s first drive that converted the Bucs’ first of nine third downs on the afternoon and the incomplete pass came in Freeman’s unsteady second quarter drive where the fourth-year QB threw five total incompletions before getting it together in the second half. 

Part of Freeman getting it together was the exceptional play by his receivers, one of which was Underwood. 

A little over a minute into the fourth quarter, Freeman released a bomb to the left side of the field where Underwood was being covered tightly by Chiefs CB Josh Wilson; Wilson tipped the ball away, but Underwood kept his concentration and was able to snatch the ball pass for a 62-yard gain which set up Jackson’s second TD of the game. 

Although only targeted three times, Underwood saw a lot of action in the Buccaneers’ 38-10 victory over Kansas City and may have emerged as Tampa Bay’s legitimate third receiver. 

A fan favorite due to his positive, humble demeanor and famous high top fade hair, Underwood has made an impression on his teammates as well.

“Yeah, that was a huge catch he made.” Carl Nicks said. “He’s a hard worker. I don’t doubt that [why] he’s on our team, he’s always going to put in work, so he’s special. Keep throwing him the rock I guess, right?”

Williams said that Underwood’s catch was the “best catch of the day,” and in true Underwood form, he downplayed the compliment and threw it back on his teammate.

“I wouldn’t say that," Underwood said, "His touchdown grab was a pretty great play and it really got us going (Sunday).”

Since Underwood first arrived in the spring, he has been a model of hard work and dedication. The former Rutgers standout has kept the same ideology through training camp, preseason, his release, and even today.

“For me, I just control what I can control.” Underwood said. “So I just try and go out there each and every practice, each and every game and just try to make plays when the ball comes my way.”

Because Williams and Jackson will see the bulk of Freeman’s passes, Underwood understands he and the rest of the receiving corps have to make every catch thrown their way.

“Mike (Williams) and Vincent (Jackson) have been playing very well and like you said are going to get the majority of the balls.” Underwood said. “So for me and Arrelious (Benn) and Roscoe (Parrish), when the ball comes our way we have to cash in and that’s just going to make our offense better.”

Making the offense better is Underwood’s top priority and has been since he was re-signed last month. However, Underwood acknowledged Monday that maximizing those opportunities will afford him more opportunities in future games. 

“When the coaches trust you and the quarterback trusts you," Underwood said, "The ball tends to come your way.” 

Based on Underwood’s performance so far, more balls may indeed be coming his way.  
Last modified on Tuesday, 16 October 2012 16:07
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    Personally grateful to Underwood for making me look good at the game Sunday. On his long Q4 catch he was split out to our side of the field and appeared to have drawn single coveragge from a corner. I told my wife to "just watch #11" and after his awesome catch she looked at me as if I was a football genius. Thanks as well to the crowd noise that followed that "prevented" me from answering her questions about how I knew that was going to happen. All good with me and it appears much is better with our football team. Go Bucs!
  • avatar


    Iam going to give my two cents again. I APPLAUD THE COACH TO LET PARKER GO AND BRING BIG MAN UNDERWOOD, I CAN WAIT TO SEE ALL THREE WR AND JACKSON AND DALLAS CLARK GO OUT AT THE SAME TIME OR TWO WR AND TWO TE. I THINK UNDERWOOD SHOULD BE SIGN FOR LONG TIME DEAL BEFORE THE END OF THE SEASON IF HE'S STAY HEALTHLY, I BEILEVE THE COACH WILL REWARD PLAYERS WHO PUTS EVEYTHING ON THE LINE WILL BE REWARDED. GO BUCS OVER THE SAINTS SUNDAY
  • avatar


    Stroughter even when he is healthy,does zero.He has one career receiving TD,throwback game in 2009.Benn obviously doesn't see the field because he doesn't make plays.Cut both of them.Underwood is our #3.
  • avatar


    It's amazing how much different the Bucs can look when the plays arent predictable. When they use BOTH running backs and throw the ball on a down before 3rd. The game ball goes to Mike Sullivan, this offense is capable of more and the playbook needs to open up and reflect that. Other than the second half against the Giants, Sheridan is doing a fine job with the defense. Hopefully today is a sign of things to come. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Great article. Question. Just thought about it, but, has Benn even taken a snap on the offense? Has Coach S said anything about that? Lol, as someone who had been wondering why Blount hasn't had more snaps, I totally forgot that Benn was even on that side of the ball.. Props to Tiquan though. Both his and the system's investment could pay off..
  • avatar


    Stroughter gets injured every year and should be cut permanently and Underwood should be our permanent slot receiver. He also is a genuine deep threat. I also think Kudos need to go to our Offensive Coordinator for having the guts to go against our tendencies and catch KC unprepared, by throwing deep on first down. Our offense was too predictable before; two runs between the tackles and then a pass. Thank goodness we are out of that rut. Schiano also needs to be playing both of his big backs exactly the way Carolina used to wear out our defenses and run us ragged with their two big back running attack. Hopefully we can keep improving our play against our archrival Saints. Freeman perhaps has learned that he has quality receivers now that he can trust to come down with the ball wihen he throws it up and he doesn't have to wait until one is clearly open any longer. That can turn this year right around for our Bucs. Lets try to run the table now. Go Bucs.
  • avatar


    I could care less if he had a Mr T haircut as long he can catch like he does...So glad they brought him back..
  • avatar


    I disagree on the hair jongruden. With that hair, there's no way he will get a concussion! I have always rooted for this kid since he was cut Superbowl eve. Love the hair!!!
  • avatar

    I like him and I was pissed when we cut him and kept "do nothing Stroughter" but he really nees to change his "Kid and Play" haircut it hasn't been in style for 20 yrs
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