The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have started to find their groove with three straight victories following an opening week loss to the New Orleans Saints. The offense has begun to hum behind quarterback Tom Brady, but they will now have to survive the rest of their season without on of their top weapons in tight end O.J. Howard.
Howard left Sunday’s 38-31 victory over the LA Chargers in the fourth quarter with an Achilles injury. Following the game, head coach Bruce Arians said Howard had sustained a ruptured Achilles and is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Bruce Arians said it looks like TE O.J. Howard has a ruptured Achilles tendon and is probably done for the season.
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) October 4, 2020
Even though the Buccaneers feature a number of dynamic playmakers on the offensive side of the football, losing a contributor as significant as O.J. Howard will still have an impact. Howard was only one piece of Tampa Bay’s talented tight end room that includes Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate but of the trio, Howard easily carries the most upside.
Selected 19th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Howard has been expected to produce since he entered the league. However, injuries have hampered the Alabama product’s career thus far. After playing 14 games his rookie season, Howard played just 10 games in his second year as a pro. Though Howard bounced back last season and missed only two games, he is now expected to miss the Bucs’ final 12 outings this year.
The good news for Tampa Bay is that Brate and Gronkowski are more than capable of holding down the tight end position while the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones make up one of the best skill position groups in the league. Of course, having Tom Brady as the leader of the offense doesn’t hurt either so the Bucs should retain their status as an NFC contender even with Howard likely lost for the season.