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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

New attitude paying off for Bucs receiver Tiquan Underwood



Bucs receiver Tiquan Underwood was one of the stars of Friday night’s preseason opener.

After he caught three passes for 74 yards against the Dolphins, he shared with me some of the reasons he suddenly seems positioned to have a breakout year after three seasons in the background in Jacksonville and New England.

It turns out offseason training partner Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals made Underwood think long and hard one day. He’s had a different approach ever since.

“Confidence is big in this league, because everybody is good,” Underwood said. “It’s what differentiates you. (Fitzgerald) asked me, ‘Are you better than Vincent Jackson?’ ”

Underwood was puzzled.

He responded, “ ‘Nah, man. That’s a Pro Bowler.’ (Fitzgerald) said, ‘Man, your mindset isn’t right. You’ve got to think that you’re the best receiver on your team. If you don’t you shouldn’t be playing.’ I’ve really taken that attitude from him. I really respect Vincent and his career. But your mindset takes you a long way in this league.”

Having seen Underwood all during training camp, he looks like a guy playing with that kind of confidence. Maybe it’s why he’s made catches you don’t expect him to make or why he’s won so many matchups.

That continued Friday. Underwood dusted former first-round pick Vontae Davis in the second quarter, fooling him with a step to the inside before going outside for a 23-yard catch from backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Moments later, Underwood blew past cornerback Sean Smith, leaped and literally took the ball away from safety Jimmy Wilson for a 44-yard gain.

“That’s good stuff,” Schiano said later. “. . . That was pretty impressive on the production.”

I’ll have a full story on Underwood in Monday’s editions of Tampa Bay Times. Make sure to come back and check it out when it’s posted later tonight.

[Last modified: Sunday, August 12, 2012 5:17pm]


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