Schiano Identifies Eric Page As Top Punt Returner

August 12th, 2013

A couple of clean punt returns and a kick return Thursday night have made wide receiver Eric Page the lead dog in the Bucs’ race to find their next Clifton Smith.

Joe asked Schiano whether the returner situation has cleared up at all, and Schiano identified Page this morning.

“I’m not sure it’s cleared up yet. Page is probably the leader right now. We’ll see,” Schiano said. “[Michael] Smith did some good things. You know, Chris Owusu put it on the ground. That doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Right. We’ll have our missteps. We’ll just keeping working through it.”

Did you mean Page is the leader for both jobs, coach?

“The punt [job] really,” Schiano said. “The kickoff, I got a lot of guys out there who can do kickoff returns. I don’t mean to minimize the job. But it comes end-over-end. There’s a lot of time. It’s going to hit you when you catch it. The other one, it’s a spiral sometimes, it’s a knuckleball other times, it’s an flip-flop kick other times. And people are going to hit you a lot of times the minute you touch it. It’s a totally different skill set. So kick returner, we’ll figure that out. It’s the punt returner that I have my antennae up on.”

Still just 21 years old, Page was an undrafted player rockstar general manager Mark Dominik and Schiano admitted they were chasing last offseason but lost out to the Broncos, where Page blew out his ACL in training champ. He’s a year and a week out of surgery.

Hopefully, punt returner will be a much more critical position for the Bucs. That should be the case if the Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson and the pass rush come to play.

The emergence of Page again reminds Joe that the Bucs keptseven receivers on the 53-man roster out of the 2010 training camp. Joe could see the Bucs leaning that way, especially if Page keeps thriving at punt returner and injuries to Kevin Ogletree and Chris Owusu linger.

In his final season at the University of Toledo (2011), Page returned 18 punts with one touchdown and an average return of 10.9 yards.

Joe has a small piece of advice for Page: Don’t fumble.

13 Responses to “Schiano Identifies Eric Page As Top Punt Returner”

  1. Brandon Says:

    I honestly don’t see any way Underwood makes the team. He is a decent, at best, 3rd WR but he doesn’t play special teams. It is very rare that a team’s 4th or 5th WR doesn’t play on most special team units. Jackson, Williams, Ogletree, Owusu, and Page or Demps. There is no room for Underwood.

  2. tampabaybucfan Says:

    Here is a nice article about Page’s Mother inspiring him. It makes you want to root for this kid…and yes, he appears to be a “Buccaneer Man”!!!

  3. Killian Says:

    Does anyone remember why Clifton Smith was not retained by the Bucs a couple years back?

  4. Joe Says:

    @tampabaybucfan – Appreciate your link, but please don’t do that here. This isn’t a message board and Joe isn’t too interested in steering readers elsewhere.
    @Killian – Smith was never the same after the cheap shot to the head he took against Carolina at home. A real bummer.

  5. Macabee Says:

    Since Spurlock, the Bucs have not had a decent KR/PR. We need another Karl “the truth” Williams or my favorite Fearless Danny Reece who called for 7 fair catches in 222 punt returns. He led the league in 1979 and 1980.

    Old-timer going back in the day! lol

  6. bucrightoff Says:

    Pretty sure Clifton Smith had concussion issues

  7. Bob Says:

    How about the other Smith, Michael Smith……based on what’s written here, he appears to be out of here.

  8. tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Joe

    Sorry ’bout that….but I thought you really had no competition.
    Especially not with the “fish wrapper”.

  9. Illuminati Says:

    @ Joe

    In his presser, Schiano simply said “Smith did some good things.”

    In your post, your edit suggests he meant Michael Smith. But how do we know he wasn’t referring to Branden Smith?

  10. clafollett Says:

    I know the Bucs have never really been known for having the best return game. I sure hope that changes soon. Unfortunately I’m not sure anyone one this team has return specialist witten on their forehead.

    Hopefully Page can show us a few things.

    Good luck Mr. Page! Remember to bite that ball.

  11. SeanyMac in SC Says:

    Wanstedt better get his special teams sorted out fast. That was clearly the weakest link in the Crows game.

  12. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    I’m rooting for Page. Have been all along.

    Joe, are you sure he didn’t say Brandon Smith? I saw Michael once. I saw Brandom muliple times.

    Not that I would mind Michael…just to hear “Run Michael Run” a few more times.

    Which reminds me. Our favorite Returner is actually getting WR reps with his new team. Hard not to root for Spurlock…even if it is Stafford passing him the ball.

  13. scubog Says:

    Thanks for the memory Macabee. Danny Reece wasn’t much of a returner but his streak of not signalling for a fair catch was something special. Back in those days we cheered good punts too. Kinda like high school when we took pride in our band’s halftime performance being superior to the opponent’s.