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Bucs coach Lovie Smith evaluates return options

“This week we’re going to take a look at some other players, too, Bobby Rainey (left) for one,” coach Lovie Smith says of the return-game competition.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

“This week we’re going to take a look at some other players, too, Bobby Rainey (left) for one,” coach Lovie Smith says of the return-game competition.

TAMPA — WR Eric Page handled punt and kickoff return duties last season, but he's facing challenges for both jobs as coach 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."

Page had two punt returns for 7 yards in Friday's preseason opener, but 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.

"I'm ready to get out there, and hopefully the punt return team can get out there and do good things," Page said. "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.

O-line latest: The Bucs continued to tinker with their offensive line combinations. Tuesday's edition featured Patrick Omameh at left guard and fifth-rounder Kadeem Edwards at right guard on the first team.

The team has used five different guards on the first team since Friday, and Smith has preached patience to fans and media as the club sorts through its options.

"We're not going to get fined if we don't name the starting guards tomorrow," Smith said.

Injury updates: RB Charles Sims left practice with an ankle injury, which Smith said was minor. CBs Mike Jenkins, Rashaan Melvin and Keith Lewis remained sidelined, as were DL Da'Quan Bowers, DE Steven Means and DT Jibreel Black.

PRESEASON MATTERS: Although preseason games don't count in the final standings, T Demar Dotson said last week's 16-10 loss to the Jaguars still hurts.

"We put bad film out there, and the film don't lie," he said. "It humbled a lot of guys. What we put out last week isn't going to win a lot of football games. We don't want to be another 4-12 football team."

MISCELLANY: DT Gerald McCoy was in pads but didn't practice — Smith gave him the day off. … The team signed DE T.J. Fatinikun, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound Toledo product.

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith evaluates return options 08/12/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 10:29pm]
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