Tiquan Underwood prepares to battle for slot receiver spot
Tiquan Underwood had, by far, the best season of his career in 2012.
And, for that, he’s been rewarded with – having to fight for his job?
That’s life in the NFL, and Underwood, a journeyman before finding a home here, has been through it all. That’s prepared him for an anticipated battle with Kevin Ogletree for the No. 3/slot receiver role.
“Year in and year out, it’s always going to be a fight,” said Underwood, who caught 28 passes for 428 yards last season, both career highs.
“A year ago, when I came to this organization, not a lot of people knew who I was. Guys had been drafted by this organization, so I was just fighting to make a name for myself. The second go-round, again I’m in a fight with a couple guys for that No. 3 spot. But competition brings out the best in players. You just have to leave it out on the field.”
Underwood was released at final cuts last season but was recalled when the injuries and underperformance prompted a shuffle at receiver.
The key is avoid putting himself in that situation again, Underwood said. How will he accomplish this?
“Being more consistent when I’m out there and knowing exactly what the quarterback wants,” Underwood said. “There were plays last year left out on the field where I kind of was iffy. Now, I’m more confident and I know exactly what he wants so the quarterback can count on me.”
It turns out, his unusual road to the best year of his career was actually an important life and football lesson.
“After going through what I went through last year,” he said, “it was actually a blessing.”