Bucs' Rainey excited for punt-return opportunity
When Bobby Rainey first came into the NFL two years ago with the Ravens, he learned a simple lesson about punt returns from Jacoby Jones, who would return three kicks for touchdowns that season.
"What I got from it is 'Catch every ball. Let them know you can catch every ball,'" Rainey said Thursday, three days before the Bucs open their season at home against Carolina. "Every day, right before practice, we'd catch balls before practice. All we did was catch punts, catch punts. We'd make it fun - we'd have little games. Whoever dropped one had to do something. Luckily I never had that happen."
With rookie Solomon Patton waived and now on the practice squad, Rainey is in line to be the team's punt returner, and he said he'll work hard in the final practices this week to make sure he does nothing to change that.
"I've just been catching every punt, not dropping one, and as long as I can catch them, they'll feel comfortable with me back there," Rainey said. "
Rainey got long looks as a punt returner with the Ravens in 2012 and 2013 -- he had a 60-yard return in preseason against Carolina last year, before he was cut, signed by the Browns, cut and signed by the Bucs. He had 11 punt returns in his first two years at Western Kentucky, though he had more success on kickoffs, returning 63 in 2008-09, averaging 25.9 yards, including a 92-yarder.
"I feel like there's nothing I can't do, so any time he wants to put me anywhere, I feel like I can do it," Rainey said. "When they said they were looking for a punt returner, I was like 'Y'all didn't do your homework. You haven't seen my film.' As long as I'm catching mine, I'll be fine. ... Now I'm the guy up front, so I have to continue to do that, so I don't get my job taken."