TAMPA -- Being with the Buccaneers means a chance to catch up with former Patriots receiver and the best friend to Devin McCourty, Tiquan Underwood. Underwood gained national notoriety when he was cut on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI so the team could promote then-defensive lineman Alex Silvestro.
The Rutgers product, who is still sporting his high-top fade, is using the tough break as motivation.
“Coach [Bill Belichick] handles his depth chart decisions on Saturday, the day before the game, whether it’s Week 1, Week 5, the playoffs, and I just happened to be one of the latter guys on the depth chart and they brought up Alex and I got released,” Underwood said. “It’s business, I understand that, and now I’m trying to put myself in a better position so when those decisions are made, I’m not one of the guys that can be released. I want to be one of the guys on the front part of the roster.”
According to Buccaneers beat writers, Underwood has been having an impressive training camp.
To those who saw the Super Bowl move as heartless -- taking away his chance to at least be on the roster for the biggest NFL game of the year -- Underwood disagrees.
“The thing I love about coach Belichick, he does what’s best for the team every week for that game,” he said. “The object in this league is to win the game, and he did that and he’s going to continue to do that day in and day out each week, and as a player you can’t be on the back half of the roster, because that’s where the tough decisions have to be made.”
He said he has no hard feelings toward the team.
“Man, a great organization. I’m just thankful to have played there for the time I did. I learned so much as a player and as a person, and it’s no secret why they’re so successful. Those guys work so hard, the attention to detail, and that’s really helped me as a player and I’ve brought it down here just trying to work on my craft,” he said.
The 25-year-old was signed by the Buccaneers in part because he played for new head coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, and can tell his teammates what Schiano expects and some of the tenets of his system.
Underwood said he isn’t one to talk too much when it comes to leadership, and instead shows the way through his play and actions. He does share, however, that if players go hard every day on the field and stay out of trouble off it, they’ll be OK with Schiano.
Tampa Bay is installing a new offense, and to hear Underwood talk, it sounds as though it has some similarities to the Patriots’ offense.
“You have to be on point to play in New England, and that’s the way it is here. Have to be on the same page as the quarterback as a receiver here, and I like that. A smarter player is a better player. Everyone knows that’s what New England is known for, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” he said.
“In this offense it’s all about timing and seeing the same thing. It’s going to take a little bit of time, but we’re working on it, day by day.”