Two late wickets gave Essex reason for cheer in their first LV= County Championship Division Two match since being bowled out for 20 by Lancashire a week ago.
Leicestershire’s Shiv Thakor was run out for 54 and Jigar Naik caught and bowled by Graham Napier for a duck, leaving the hosts on 268 for seven at the end of day one.
Napier was the pick of Essex's bowling attack and finished with 4-78 from 25 hostile overs as bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire once again failed to produce the goods in their first innings despite half-centuries from Thakor and Niall O'Brien.
They had managed only 10 batting bonus points in their previous eight games - the lowest total by any side in the division but, at 253 for five, appeared set to at least reach the 300-mark and pick up three points.
However, Thakor and Michael Thornely decided to go for a quick single four overs before the close and the former was run out by Jaik Mickleburgh's throw from cover to end a stand of 64. In the next over, Naik - trying to pull a short ball from Napier - top-edged a simple return catch to the bowler.
After their all-time low score in the previous game, Essex must have been relieved not to have been put into bat when Leicestershire won the toss.
There was plenty of cloud cover to encourage bowlers and all the Essex seamers troubled batsmen, even though O'Brien and Greg Smith shared an opening partnership of 58; they both rode their luck at times but also produced some excellent attacking shots when given the opportunity.
O'Brien hit Napier for three successive fours but Smith was trapped lbw by Ryan ten Doeschate for 27.
Ned Eckersley looked in good touch until edging behind off David Masters to depart for 21 before O'Brien, having reached 50 off 143 balls with 10 fours, became Napier's first victim, given lbw playing across the line for 67 - his championship best for Leicestershire.
Joe Burns was next to go for 26, caught at slip off Napier, and Matthew Boyce was out lbw to the same bowler.
Thakor, who reached his half-century off 108 balls with nine fours, and Thornely steadied things until the late collapse - although the latter remained on 37.