Tiquan Underwood is drawing Super Bowl XLVI attention because of a different kind of cut.
The New England Patriots waived the backup wide receiver on the eve of Sunday night’s game against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Underwood – who arrived in Indianapolis with a Patriots logo shaved in the back of his wild hi-top fade – is being replaced by practice-squad defensive end Alex Silvestro.
Such last-minute roster decisions are common for the Patriots as the franchise shapes its game-day roster. A source told FOXSports.com that Underwood’s release was “totally a football decision” and not related to any off-field problems involving Underwood at the Super Bowl.
Still, the timing of Underwood’s release has come across publically as cold considering he practiced with the team all week as well as the magnitude of Sunday’s game.
Silvestro, who was signed as a rookie college free agent from Rutgers, will likely be activated for Super Bowl XLVI to provide defensive line depth. He played in one game this season, registering two tackles against Miami in December.
Underwood handled his release with class, wishing the Patriots luck on messages sent from his Twitter account. Underwood also said he will use this situation as motivation for the future.
“THANK YOU Everyone For Your Support & Sympathy,” Underwood wrote on a Sunday morning Tweet. “Im Fine, This Will Only Make Me Stronger...Tough Times Never Last But Tough Ppl Do.”
Underwood’s unusual ’do drew more Super Bowl week attention than anything he had done on the field this season. A third-year veteran from Rutgers who has bounced on and off New England’s practice squad, Underwood caught three passes for 30 yards in the six games he was active.
Underwood’s release makes it likely that tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will be active for Super Bowl XLVI. Gronkowski was limited this week in practice because of a sprained left ankle suffered January 22 in the AFC Championship game victory over Baltimore. Ochocinco was inactive for that game but that may have stemmed from the fact he briefly left the team earlier in the week to attend his father’s funeral.
ESPN reported that Underwood will be paid his Super Bowl XLVI salary despite not being on the roster. He will receive $88,000 if the Patriots win and $44,000 if they lose.