August has been a cruel month for Carolina Panthers wide receiver Tiquan Underwood.
Five times Underwood has attended an NFL training camp, and four times he’s failed to win a spot on the opening-week roster.
And while it appears Underwood again could be heading toward some final-cut heartbreak, he has quit trying to read the tea leaves to gauge his chances of making the Panthers’ 53-man roster.
“To be honest, man, this is my sixth training camp. I’ve played bad and got cut. I’ve had great preseasons, got cut. You never can read too much into it,” Underwood said Wednesday while walking to Bank of America Stadium from the practice fields. “You just have to go out there and try to be as consistent as you can; just put good days together back-to-back.”
It’s inconsistency that has left Underwood – who has previous stops in Jacksonville, New England and Tampa Bay – in jeopardy of being cut for the ninth time in his career.
Underwood, signed to a two-year deal during the offseason to replace Ted Ginn Jr. as the Panthers’ chief deep threat, has been plagued by dropped passes throughout the preseason. Those dropped him on the depth chart behind current No. 4 wideout Brenton Bersin and others, and limited his chances in the exhibitions.
Underwood played 25 offensive snaps and was targeted twice in the first two exhibitions. He caught a 5-yard pass from Joe Webb in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win against Kansas City. That’s been the extent of his production.
By the time Underwood entered the game in the second half against the Chiefs, the Panthers had the lead and were handing the ball off to Fozzy Whittaker most plays.
Underwood was in as a returner for two kickoffs against the Chiefs, but one went over his head for a touchback and the other went to Kenjon Barner.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he hopes to get Underwood – as well as young wideouts Tavarres King, Marvin McNutt and Kealoha Pilares – more reps Friday night at New England.
“We have to make sure (Underwood) has more opportunities. And when he gets those opportunities, capitalize,” Rivera said. “Not just for him, but Tavarres and Marvin ... Kealoha. These are guys you want to see flash, and you want to see them show the things that they’re capable of. That way we can make a good decision.”
Underwood managed to get waived four times during one year with the Patriots, who infamously cut him the night before their Super Bowl loss to the Giants after the 2011 regular season.
Underwood remains friends with Patriots free safety Devin McCourty, but he said Friday’s exhibition holds no special meaning for him.
He’s simply trying to win a job.
“It’s just another opportunity,” Underwood said. “It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. Obviously, it’s a little different because I know some of the players there.
With the first round of cuts coming next week and final cuts set for Aug. 30, Underwood was asked whether Friday was a big test for him.
“They’re all big. We only get four of them,” he said. “You just want to do well with the reps that you’re given.”
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