Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs' Page makes case to earn return job

TAMPA — Generally, running out a kickoff from 7 yards in the end zone is not the best idea.

But Eric Page has never met a return opportunity he didn't like.

"That's the only way I know how to make a play," the Bucs rookie said. "I try to return everything I can."

The result: One of Tampa Bay's few memorable plays during Thursday night's 30-12 loss to the Redskins at Raymond James Stadium — a 105-yard, first-quarter kickoff return that started 7 yards into the Bucs end zone and ended at the Washington 2.

In keeping with the spirit of the evening, the electrifying return was nullified because of a Mike James hold, and the Bucs began the series on their 7.

But the play likely solidified a roster spot for Page, 21, and gives Tampa Bay, for the first time in a while, a legitimate return threat.

"He's put together some good work in this camp," coach Greg Schiano said.

Page's 30.5-yard return average entered the game 10th in the league among players with at least three attempts.

Last season, Tampa Bay was 30th in the league on kick returns with a 20.3-yard average. In 2011 it was 26th with an average of 22.6 yards.

"Just a great asset for the team," receiver Tiquan Underwood said of a more dangerous return game. "It just gets the offense flowing."

It appeared Page, 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, gave the Bucs a boost after the Redskins scored on their opening drive.

With what he described as "quick reflexes" and the ability to "read holes." Page didn't hesitate when he caught the kick and accelerated through a hole at about the 20.

"The blockers were great," he said. "I just ran to daylight. It was easy. Anyone could have done it. I just ran through the middle and made a cut on the kicker."

Page, who had three returns in the game for 69 yards, admittedly ran out of gas and was run down by Lance Lewis.

Page kicked himself a bit, saying, "I've got to finish the play," but added, "I was just happy we were able to break one out."

This has been a breakout preseason for Page, a record-breaking receiver at Toledo who signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent after last year missing training camp with the Broncos because of a torn ACL.

"Here's guy that we're bringing on, bringing on, and he keeps getting better and better," Schiano said. "And (Thursday) he did it again."

"Right now I'm in a pretty good spot," Page said. "I'm just glad to be here and moving on with my story."

Bucs' Page makes case to earn return job 08/30/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 30, 2013 1:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs

    Bucs

    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  3. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

    Blogs

    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.