Underwood rises again, excited for return to Bucs
Receiver Tiquan Underwood was at a movie theater in Charlotte, N.C. Wednesday night, watching The Dark Knight Rises for the third time, when he felt his cell phone vibrate.
It was a familiar number - Bucs coach Greg Schiano - so he made sure to hustle out of the theater to take it. And Underwood was glad he did, as the Bucs re-signed him, and after a "crazy" night of finding flights to Tampa, he was back on the practice field Thursday afternoon.
"I had to take that (call)," Underwood said, smiling. "It's a pretty long movie, so I still got to see it enough."
Underwood had been without a job for several weeks, since the Bucs made him one of their final cuts. He had a stellar preseason, leading the team in receiving with nine catches for 158 yards, including showing potential to stretch the field. Schiano had liked him, having also coached him at Rutgers, but other receivers got the nod for their ability to help on special teams.
Underwood, 25, on his third team in five seasons, took it all in stride, having the experience of being released several times (including the day before the Super Bowl last season by the Patriots).
"As a professional, you worry about controlling what you can control," Underwood said. "Like I did in the preseason, I went out and played, and when I was out of job, just go out there and work hard and when a call comes, just be ready."
Underwood went back to North Carolina to work out with a buddy of his and stay ready in case he got a call. He tried out for the Raiders before their Week 1 game, but was very excited to come back to a familiar place in Tampa Bay; the Bucs had room after releasing WR Preston Parker. Underwood received a warm welcome from teammates at Thursday's practice.
"That feeling of going to a team where you don't know the playbook, it would have been difficult," Underwood said. "But to come back here where I'm familiar with the players it's a better situation overall. But when you're unemployed, you take any call."
Even if you're at a movie.
- JOE SMITH