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Underwood hoping to get noticed

8/30/2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tiquan Underwood said he talks with former Rutgers teammate Devin McCourty nearly every day. But when Underwood texted McCourty last week to tell hm he'd soon be joining him in New England, his good friend didn't believe him.

"They were about to fly to Detroit [for Saturday's exhibition game], he thought I was joking around," said Underwood. "He got word of it and we spoke about it. He said, ‘Come up here ready to work, it’s a great opportunity for you.'"

Officially inked Monday, Underwood was sporting a Patriots hoodie with No. 10 -- the number that formerly belonged to waived wide receiver Darnell Jenkins -- and was impossible to miss in the locker room at Gillette Stadium with his retro high-top fade. He is the third player out of Rutgers to join the roster, noting his friendship with both McCourty and defensive end Alex Silvestro.

Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston

New Patriots wide receiver Tiquan Underwood ... and his high-top fade.Now he's hoping to make fast friends with the team's talent evaluators.

"I’m just here trying to help the team the best I can, whether it’s special teams or offense, right now I’m just learning this playbook," said Underwood. "Just taking it day by day."

Underwood was actually in Foxborough just a couple weeks ago with the Jacksonville Jaguars and spoke glowingly of watching the New England offense in the Patriots' 47-12 triumph. He's excited about the potential of catching passes from quarterback Tom Brady.

"When you get the opportunity to play with a quarterback of that caliber, just to be a part of an organization this caliber, it’s very exciting," said Underwood. "I’m looking forward to it."

Underwood appeared in 19 games over two seasons with the Jaguars, primarily as a kick returner (he averaged 23.4 yards per return while bringing back 24 kicks last season). Underwood also caught eight passes for 111 yards last season. He's not worried about his role in New England yet, he's just trying to prove he deserves a chance to stick around.

"I haven’t spoken to anybody much, they told me to come in ready to work, learn the playbook, and then go out there and fight for a position," said Underwood. "Just go hard.

"[Being released in Jacksonville is] part of this business. It’s going to happen to each and every one of us at one point. I wouldn’t say surprised, but you get down when something like that happen. But one door closes, another opens. I’m just looking forward to the next opportunity I have, which is here with the New England Patriots."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick admitted Monday that Underwood, a seventh-round pick (253rd overall) of Jacksonville in the 2009 draft, hasn't had much playing time, but likes the potential.

"He’s a later draft choice, a player that I think is improving," said Belichick. "Obviously he didn’t make their roster, but we felt like we might have a chance -- well, we do have a chance now -- to take a look at him. And so we’ll see what that looks like. [He's a] good-sized receiver, played with [Kenny] Britt at Rutgers. He hasn’t had a lot of playing time and production in the NFL, but he’s had some."