TAMPA — Bucs RB Bobby Rainey received a game ball for his breakout performance on Monday Night Football.
Rainey, 26, hopes he'll soon have a house to put it in.
It has been a whirlwind month for Rainey. He was claimed off waivers from the Browns on Oct. 21 and flew to Paducah, Ky., a week later for the birth of his daughter, Kyvee Jolie. While Rainey caught up on the playbook, he house hunted in Tampa Bay, finding a place in Westchase, north of Tampa, on which he is waiting for approval.
Rainey rushed for 45 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the 22-19 win over the Dolphins on Monday. He likely will shoulder a significant load going forward.
“Monday Night Football, everybody's watching," Rainey said of his first carries for the Bucs. "After the game, I looked at my phone and had 36 text messages. The first person I called was my fiance. I wanted to talk to my daughter, but she can't talk back. Then I called my mom."
Rainey went undrafted in 2012 out of Western Kentucky, where he rushed for 1,695 yards as a senior. He received a Super Bowl ring with the Ravens last season despite not being active for any games. He thought he'd stick with the Browns but was waived after six games. Rainey said one of his former teammates joked after Monday's game, "Where else you going to end up at?"
Rainey said it was tough to stay patient. But after Mike James broke his left ankle on the opening series Monday, Rainey split carries with Brian Leonard. Rainey set up his 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter with a 31-yard run.
"I think I proved I'm able to play in this league, and I did my job," Rainey said. "I'm ready for any load that (coach Greg Schiano) is willing to give me."
As for Monday's game ball?
"It's going in the man cave," Rainey said, "if I get approved for the house."
MEA CULPA: Eric Page on Monday had a 52-yard punt return, the Bucs' longest in four seasons. But Page also received a lot of attention — and the ire of Schiano — for his personal foul penalty midway through the fourth quarter when he hit cornerback R.J. Stanford.
Once the ball bounced past him near the left sideline, Page said, he thought it would stay inbounds and he tried to block Stanford so he wouldn't down it deep inside Bucs territory. But the ball bounced out of bounds at the 22-yard line, Stanford stopped running and Page hit him.
"I've got to be smarter than that," Page said. "I think it just looked a lot worse than it was because the guy stopped running. If he continued to run, he can shield his way off. It's a hard call."
TOUGH TASK: Rookie DT Akeem Spence said he doesn't know why Dolphins C Mike Pouncey punched him in the face mask on the first series, drawing a penalty. But Spence knows how tough it was not to retaliate. "It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," he said. "But sometimes you have to turn the other cheek."
MISCELLANY: The Bucs placed James on injured reserve and signed undrafted rookie RB Michael Hill off of the Packers' practice squad. … Schiano said DE Da'Quan Bowers is having tests after experiencing "concussion-like symptoms" and his status for Sunday against the Falcons was uncertain. … WR Vincent Jackson (knee) and S Mark Barron (knee) were limited at practice.
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.