Page trying to hold off challengers for return jobs
TAMPA -- Receiver Eric Page handled both punt and kickoff return duties for the Bucs last season, but he's facing challenges for both jobs as Lovie Smith continues to evaluate his options on special teams.
"This week we're going to take a look at some other players too, Bobby Rainey for one," Smith said after Tuesday's practice. "Bobby can catch the ball well. He guarantees me he can do it well in this league. Most running backs guarantee they can do just about everything, but Bobby can. ... At all positions, we're going to let as many guys as possible prove what they can do."
Page had two punt returns for 7 yards in Friday's preseason opener, and he said his focus is proving himself to be a reliable player in practice and in the preseason games.
"I'm just trying to be consistent," Page said. "I'm just trying to catch the ball and get comfortable back there. I don't know how much it's my job coming in because every year's different. I'm going out to work like it's not my job."
His longest return last year came on a 52-yard punt return against Miami, so he's excited to face the Dolphins again on Saturday night.
"Again Miami last year, I almost had a big run," he said. "I'm ready to get out there, and hopefully the punt return team can get out there and do good things. Hopefully I can do some (kickoffs) this Saturday, but we'll see."
Page didn't get a look on kickoff returns last week, with RB Jeff Demps fielding two and rookie WR Solomon Patton and RB Mike James each fielding one. The Bucs' average field position off those four kickoffs was the 15-yard line, with none returned beyond the 24.