There’s never a good time to get too comfortable as an NFL football player and rookie Solomon Patton knows all about it.
After breaking camp in Tampa Bay and serving as the primary kick and punt returner for the first six regular season games, the Bucs pink-slipped Patton and sent him packing.
“Oh yeah, I’ve definitely learned that it’s a business,” he said from the locker room Wednesday, two days after being brought back to Tampa Bay. “It’s my rookie year and it’s like a roller coaster I feel like, but everything works out for the best and I’m back.”
Patton brought back 10 punts and 17 kicks for average returns of 11.2 and 23.1 yards, respectively.
Looking for a more dynamic option, Tampa Bay released Patton on Oct. 21 but failed to find their man. Trindon Holliday and Marcus Thigpen couldn’t cut it and running back Bobby Rainey filled the role last week until Patton’s return on Monday.
The rookie out of Florida is hoping to use these last four games as an opportunity to show the Bucs coaching staff and front office that he possesses some explosiveness and should be the guy moving forward.
“That’s what special teams is all about. Special teams can really win games [along with] defense and offense, as well,” Patton said. “As a returner you want to score touchdowns and you want to get those big returns, so that’s what I’m shooting for these last four games.
“It’s a fast game so you have to run fast.”
Patton spent his brief hiatus from the team on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad and said he tried to take advantage of his surroundings.
“I had a good experience learning from Larry Fitzgerald and Ted Ginn, their returner there,” Patton said. “I learned some things from them so it was awesome.
“I’m just thankful that they called me back and gave me another opportunity. It shows that Coach Lovie Smith definitely believes in me, so I’m just excited to be back.”