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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Scouting report on new Bucs receiver Tiquan Underwood

We're still waiting for the Bucs to make official Greg Schiano's latest signing of a former Rutgers player, receiver Tiquan Underwood.

In the meantime, it's a good time to take a glance at what Underwood might provide Tampa Bay.

For starters, Underwood's body of work in the NFL is extremely small. He's made just 11 receptions in the past two seasons, including three while with the Patriots in 2011. But we can still glean a little about him from what he did at Rutgers, where he was pretty productive.

One thing you'll learn about Underwood -- at least based on his college experience -- is that he has an ability to work the middle of the field. Many of his highlights feature him making catches between the hash marks, often on slants. Though he isn't considered particularly fast, he's got some elusiveness -- something that enables him to work the middle and probably makes him an option as a slot receiver.

At 6-1 and 183 pounds, Underwood has good height but clearly lacks bulk. That will hamper him against press coverage and physical defensive backs. On paper, it would seem Underwood has much work to do if he is to make an impact as a receiver on a team that has a sizable group of young options at the position, not to mention Pro Bowl selection Vincent Jackson.

But special teams is something we shouldn't rule out with Underwood. He's shown some ability to return kickoffs, in particular. In 2010 in Jacksonville (he was a 2009 seventh-round pick of the Jags), Underwood averaged 23.4 yards per attempt on kick returns.

This is an area where he could potentially make an impact here in Tampa Bay because there appears to be opportunity. The Bucs couldn't find consistency in their return game last season because Sammie Stroughter struggled to stay healthy and Preston Parker mishandled too many kicks.

Where will Underwood ultimately fit in with the Bucs? That depends on how he performs. Although he has a relationship with Schiano, the coach has made it clear that alone won't land anyone a roster spot. So, coaches will keep an eye on Underwood through the offseason and into training camp, and it'll be up to him to prove he belongs.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 1:39pm]

    

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