Make us your home page

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

  1. NFL rewards Tampa Bay's track record, preparation with another Super Bowl


    Tampa Bay got lucky on Tuesday.

    We are getting a Super Bowl. We are getting a Super Bowl that we weren't supposed to get. We're getting a Super Bowl that we once were told we wouldn't get.

    Then came good luck.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 

Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  2. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

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

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Erasmo Ramirez #30 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)
  3. Wilson Ramos feeling good and confident, eyeing late June return to Rays


    Sitting on the bench in the Rays dugout in his full catcher's gear, Wilson Ramos talked excitedly Tuesday about the progress in his recovery from right knee surgery and the potential to be back in the major leagues by this time next month.

    "I feel like a player right now,'' Ramos said.

    Wilson Ramos is aiming to be back with the Rays by this time next month.
  4. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021


    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 

Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  5. Why Ryan Fitzpatrick may solve the puzzle for Bucs at backup quarterback


    Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to leave One Buc Place following Thursday’s off-season workout and fly home to New Jersey in time to teach a class of 10 second and third grade students how to solve the Rubiks Cube.

    The Bucs are hoping Ryan Fitzpatrick can provide the solution to their puzzle at backup quarterback behind starter Jameis Winston.