In the last days before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster cutdown to 53 players, during the first week of September, wide receiver Tiquan Underwood was comfortable in the knowledge that he had "left it all on the field." That is, Underwood believed he had done all he could do to earn a spot on the team's regular-season roster.
It took a few extra weeks, but that work has paid off. On Thursday, the Buccaneers announced that they have re-signed Underwood and released wide receiver Preston Parker. It's the second time the team has fine-tuned its receiving corps this week, after Jordan Shipley was also re-signed on Tuesday.
The 6-1, 183-pound Underwood originally joined the Buccaneers in May after he was released by the New England Patriots. He had a strong training camp and followed that with a good showing in the preseason. Playing in all four August games, Underwood led the team with nine receptions for 158 yards, averaging 17.6 yards per catch. However, he was released on August 31 in that roster reduction to 53.
Underwood came into the NFL in 2009 as a seventh-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played most extensively in 2010, his second year in Jacksonville, appearing in 10 games and catching eight passes for 111 yards. Overall, he has played 19 NFL games and recorded 11 receptions for 141 yards.
As a rookie, Underwood was released by Jacksonville during the final roster cuts and added to the practice squad, but he spent only a month on that unit before being promoted to the active roster, where he remained the rest of the season, appearing in three games. He made the 53-man roster again in 2010 but was then released near the end of the following preseason. The Patriots quickly signed him to their camp roster, waived him again in early September, then re-signed him in November.
Underwood received a little unexpected attention during Super Bowl week, when the Patriots released him the day before their game against the Giants in order to promote defensive end Alex Silvestro. New England signed him right back the next day but he was waived in the spring.
Signing with the Buccaneers reunited Underwood with his college coach. He played four seasons at Rutgers under Greg Schiano (2005-08), starting 32 of the 49 games in which he played and racking up 132 catches for 1,931 yards and 16 touchdowns. After recording a career-best 65 catches for 1,100 yards as a junior in 2007, he was named a team captain for his senior campaign.
Parker has been with the Buccaneers since signing as an undrafted free agent out of North Alabama in 2010. He re-signed with the team this past spring as an exclusive rights free agent. Parker made the active roster as a rookie and over the next two years and played in 27 games, recording 44 catches for 596 yards and three touchdowns. Parker has also returned 28 kickoffs (20.6 avg.) and 23 punts (8.8) average but had recently been moved to third on the depth chart in both of those capacities.