One of the more unexpected cuts (from an outside perspective) the Buccaneers made in reducing their roster to 53 for the regular season on the final day of August was that of wide receiver Tiquan Underwood. Underwood had led the team in receiving during the preseason and appeared to have a shot to make an opening-day roster for just the second time in his four-year NFL career.
However, Underwood’s fellow wideouts were performing well, too. In the week leading up to the final cuts, Head Coach Greg Schiano identified the receiver position as perhaps the most competitive battle remaining. After the cuts, Head Coach Greg Schiano indicated that wide receiver Sammie Stroughter had the edge on Underwood due to Stroughter’s proven ability on special teams.
“A very tough decision,” said Schiano of letting Underwood go. “A tough decision because of his productivity in the preseason. And personally a tough decision because I’ve known this kid since he was a freshman in high school and have had a lot of great moments with him, and I trust him.”
Underwood had a tryout in Oakland after he was released by the Bucs, but did not sign. In the end, that allowed for a reunion in Tampa, which was something Schiano had foreseen as a possibility. It happened on Thursday when the team brought Underwood back and released Preston Parker.
“The good thing is that this is a long season,” said Schiano on Sept. 1. “He’s a guy that I want the best for him. If somebody claims him, that’s great. But, if not, he’s a guy that I think that we will always have in the ready, because he performed well. But special teams – at the end of the day, Sammie does a lot on special teams. I don’t know if Ti could or couldn’t, but he hasn’t. Sammy has proven that he can.”
Now Underwood may get that chance, as Stroughter is dealing with a foot injury and Schiano is not sure whether his absence will be short-term or long-term. Underwood did play on special teams with Schiano at Rutgers, and now he could get the chance to show he can excel in that area on the professional level, as well. That would certainly help him in his efforts to gain a more permanent foothold in the NFL.
“I know as a player I have to be well-rounded,” said Underwood. “If you’re not going to be a starter in this league you have to contribute to a team on special teams, and I realize that.”