The Carolina Panthers new-look wide receiver corps is a source of huge competition here in the preseason, as unheralded players such as Brenton Bersin have staked their claim with strong preseason performances, whereas players once seen as strong roster bets could be on the outside-looking-in for a spot on the 53-man roster. Former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Tiquan Underwood could be one of those guys, as he was once a potential starting candidate back in the early summer. After some terrible training camp practices, it looks like Underwood could be released in favor of an undrafted rookie like Philly Brown.
In his latest 53-man roster projection, ESPN NFL Nation’s David Newton has six wide receivers making the Panthers roster in Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tavarres King, Bersin, and Brown. The first four wideouts listed are essentially locks, and the top three wideouts are well entrenched as the mainstay receivers in the Panthers offense. Bersin has most likely played himself into a roster spot, but the No. 6 gig is clearly wide open.
So why isn’t Underwood on the roster in favor of Brown? Newton’s reasoning is that he’s still dropping passes, and that undermines the vertical speed he brings to the table. Underwood can be a good, playmaking No. 4 receiver who can stretch the field as a situational deep threat, but you can’t rack up yards if you can’t catch. He’s consistently dropped passes throughout the month of August, and he’ll need a big preseason the rest of the way in order to work his way into a roster spot.
He clearly has a talent to stick on the roster and should find a job somewhere in this league, but it doesn’t look like he’ll stick in Carolina if he doesn’t turn things around soon. Underwood had one catch for five yards on one target yesterday in a 28-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, whereas Bresin had two catches for 29 yards and a TD.