With an offense that is averaging just over nine points a game, the Buccaneers shook up their roster over the last week, benching, then releasing quarterback Josh Freeman, and also cutting receiver Kevin Ogletree who was signed during the 2013 free agency period. Replacing Ogletree on the roster is former receiver Tiquan Underwood.
While the benching and eventual release of quarterback Josh Freeman has been all the talk over the last 10 days, the Buccaneers made another bold and significant move by releasing wide receiver Kevin Ogletree who was signed in the offseason as a free agent.
The former Cowboys’ receiver had a major case of the drops and head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik has seen enough and released Ogletree and safety Ahmad Black last week. To help spark the stagnant offense the Buccaneers welcomed back a familiar face – and hairstyle – with the signing of last year’s No. 3 starting receiver Tiquan Underwood.
Underwood, who was cut after the final roster was set in late August, wasn't a couch potato over the last month, instead kept he working out and hoping to hear his phone ring.
“I was in California for the entire time,” Underwood said. “I was training at a facility. It was a pretty good place, weight room, inside turf, it was a good deal but (just training) nothing like being in actual football shape.”
Waiting on a phone call was difficult but Underwood has been through this before.
“As a professional all you can do is stay ready,” Underwood said. “No matter if Tampa was the team, or any other team you just have to stay in shape, stay on top of your game and when you get that opportunity, get off and run with it.”
Following the Buccaneers is something Underwood did from afar and thinks this team isn’t too far away from being 3-1 instead of their current disappointing 0-4.
“Being on the outside is always tough,” Underwood said. “Because you want to play, but it is what it is. Personally, this team has lost four games in a matter of six points so it’s right on the cusp. There’s a lot of talent, and hard workers on this team, so you just have to ride the ship, and continue to work hard and we’re going to fix it.”
Underwood, who caught 28 passes for 425 yards and two touchdowns in 2012 for Tampa Bay, was caught off guard by the benching and eventual release of Freeman, but knows it happens often in the NFL.
“It’s part of the business side of football,” Underwood said. “Changes are going to be made when things aren’t going well so as a professional you have to do your job to the best of your ability. Coming back here it’s been nice to see (Mike) Glennon taking command of the huddle, and running with the opportunity he was given.”
After being away for a month Underwood can’t hardly believe the difference in Glennon since he last saw him back in August.
“Absolutely he looks different,” Underwood said. “I left at the beginning of the season, so it’s been a month, so coming back here and seeing him the leader in the huddle and throwing balls, telling guys what to do, where to line up, he’s come a long way as a rookie and it’s a nice thing to see.”
Having spent all offseason and training camp with the Buccaneers should help Underwood step right back into the flow of things.
“I think it’s always a good thing for a player to go back to a team that he knows,” Underwood said. “You don’t have to go back to the playbook, you don’t have to go somewhere new and learn. We’re all professionals, so if I went somewhere new, I would have to do what I had to do, and study and learn it. Coming here is a perfect situation. Knowing the offense, knowing the offensive coordinator, the coach, and head coach obviously. I’m going to try to take full advantage of this.”
Getting released by the Buccaneers during the team’s final cut downs – for the second season in a row – was difficult, but Underwood didn’t spend much time playing the what-if game in his mind.
“This time I was actually at peace with myself,” Underwood said. “I played special teams; I played in preseason games hurt, gutting it out, so I was at peace. Even if wasn’t given this opportunity, and nobody called, I was cool with that. I’m fortunate and happy that I did get another opportunity to play in this league so I want to go out there and play hard, do whatever I have to do to help this team win.”
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