Anyone But Eric Page?

August 13th, 2014
eric page2

Will Eric Page — and/or those around him — force Lovie’s hand?

Following the Bucs’ competition at punt returner, Joe gets the distinct impression Lovie Smith doesn’t want Eric Page winning the job. But Lovie’s problem is he must find someone better, and that just hasn’t happened.

Consider that Lovie made it very clear twice that he doesn’t have warm feelings about the position. The first time came in May when the head coach called punt returner “an area of concern.”

That was somewhat surprising, given that Lovie didn’t really express concern about anything at that time of year, and Page was coming off being ranked 13th among NFL punt returners with more than 15 attempts last year.

Then, Lovie told media that he didn’t have a “starting rotation” the position during training camp, despite Lovie saying previously that every position would have a starting rotation.

This week, Lovie said Page, the lead returner on Friday in Jacksonville, missed an opportunity. And yesterday he said Bobby Rainey would get another shot and Rainey swears to him he can do it.

Add that up, it sure smells like Lovie is yearning for a player more versatile than Page to win the gig. Can Rainey do it? The next two preseason games likely will answer that question.

Obviously, punt returner is a key job, especially when you’re a defense-first head coach that expects a smothering defense to stall a lot of opponents’ drives.

Devin Hester is in Atlanta, and Lovie isn’t waving the Eric Page flag. Not yet. Regardless, Joe’s not worried. The Bucs could do much worse than Page. Remember, he’s just 22 years old and is now two years removed from ACL with a season of returning under his belt.

15 Responses to “Anyone But Eric Page?”

  1. bigsombrero Says:

    I agree with Lovies supposed take. Eric page won’t see the field as a wideout and as a returner, he’s reliable and that’s about it. He isn’t a game breaking threat so I would feel salty about giving a roster spot to a guy just because he is the least likely to fumble a punt.

  2. robert9 Says:

    still baffles me we did not go after hester!!! or cognito or the gy in san fran.

    salary cap issues maybe? mccoys contract?

  3. DB55 Says:

    Exactly. I’m still salty about Hester. Not only do you not sign the great return man in nfl history but you let him go to a division rival. COME ON MAN!!!!

  4. Phillip Says:

    I don’t see a problem with this.. I really do hope someone else emerges to take that PR job because that mean’s(hopefully) they are better than Page and would be nice to have a good fallback option… Plus I feel like Page doesn’t scare anyone with his return skills… If say Rainey or Demps were back there and actually scared the Punter then he is more likely to shank it I would think! Also probably means we have a pretty bad@$$ KR too 🙂

  5. Phillip Says:

    I don’t know why I put an apostrophe on means lol… Long week already

  6. Bill Says:

    It makes sense. Then Streeter and Herron make the team. With the third and fourth wideout positions not locked, it gives them team more options as the season, and hopefully the young wideouts, progress.

  7. robert9 Says:

    the only way i want demps back there is if they allow stick-um in the nfl

  8. Louis Friend Says:

    It’d be awesome if Rainey can do the job – basically I think that Page is taking up Tommy Streeter’s roster spot. I’d take him over Page any day of the week – provided the kid gets some time on the field.

  9. Hawk Says:

    There are still three games for someone to ‘step up’. If no one does, then Lovie will have to make a very tough decision. You do NOT want someone who fumbles a punt, to be doing it at your own 10/15 yard line.

  10. Cobraboy Says:

    He was spoiled with Devin Hester…

  11. Architek Says:

    Should’ve signed Hester!

  12. bob in valrico Says:

    I did see page catch a return,stand there and watch defenders that were not within 10 yards lookin for a hole to run to. after that play he got a talking to on sideline

  13. Hawk Says:

    The reason Lovie is hoping someone else will step up is that if it falls to Page, he’s a ‘one trick pony’. That takes up a valuable roster spot for a couple plays per game. It is just possible that the reason Lovie didn’t sign Hester is the same, but he may have also noticed Hester losing a step. Why spend a lot more than what Page costs, and get only a little extra? Last year Hester did not catch a single pass (returner only). Between kickoff and punt returns, he fumbled 11 times and scored 4 TDs over the last THREE years.

  14. Owlykat Says:

    Lovie you have a returner on your roster who got the most yards in the Jax game–PATTON!!! He is a durable burner with fine hands and experience returning kicks and punts for the Gators and he is quick and fearless. He also was the Gators’ top receiver and can play slot for you. Don’t overlook him for his size. Instead of keep trying others over and over have Patton take every kick in the Miami game and you would stop worrying. He is the man!

  15. Brandon Says:

    You guys are out of your minds if you thought it was a good idea to sign a returner on the wrong side of 30 (32 in November) that’s returned exactly one kick or punt once in the last 2 seasons (in 134 attempts) and hasn’t returned a kickoff for a score in 3 years.

    Lovie knows it, Licht knows it, you guys need to know it, Hester’s best days are well past him.