The rest of the NFL should be scared. Very scared.
Not only have the Buccaneers managed to bring back nearly every main contributor from 2020, but the team is getting even stronger as the offseason continues to progress.
Bruce Arians met with reporters on Tuesday and offered up some encouraging words on O.J. Howard, who went down for the year in Week 4 with an Achilles injury. Howard was Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick in 2017 and was having a career year before his injury against the Chargers.
According to Arians, Howard is currently on the mend and should be ready to go for the 2021 season.
“He’s real close,” Arians said when asked about Howard’s timetable to return. “He’s not running on the grass yet, but he’s really close. Last time I checked he was 80-85% body weight running on Ultra G. He looks fantastic. I don’t see any setbacks. I think if and when we can get together on the field, he’ll be ready to go. What a huge addition [it will be] to have him back, because he was having a great year. I think, again, the sky is the limit for what he can do in this offense.”
Howard’s return gives the Bucs one of the NFL’s deepest -if not the deepest- tight end rooms in the league. His size, speed, and athleticism are the perfect complements to Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate. All three players could easily start on other teams.
There’s also something to be said about a healthy Howard in terms of playmaking ability. When he’s on, he’s on, as we’ve seen from time-to-time over the last few years. He just needs to find a way to stay healthy.
Howard has recorded 105 receptions for 1,602 yards (15.3 ypc) and 14 touchdowns while playing in 42 games over the course of his four-year career.