The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to be without talented tight end O.J. Howard after he suffered a knee injury.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without tight end O.J. Howard for 2-4 weeks.
Schefter reported that Howard suffered a sprained MCL in Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears.
Howard was targeted three times in Week 4 and didn’t come down with a catch. His best chance was on a potential touchdown reception, but quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick airmailed the throw.
The injury comes at a terrible time for Howard, who has gotten off to a strong start, he already has 11 receptions, 222 yards and a touchdown.
With Jameis Winston set to return as the starting quarterback, Howard could have been in for some gaudy receiving numbers.
On the bright side, the sprain is a short-term injury, and the Buccaneers are well suited to replace him. Cameron Brate will step in as the starter and likely have comparable production. Brate has had a tremendous rapport with Winston in the past. He also snagged his first touchdown catch of the season against the Bears.
Tampa Bay will miss Howard’s big-play ability, but they have weapons which can take the top off of the defense. DeSean Jackson has been an ultra-reliable deep threat so far, and Chris Godwin has had his fair share of big plays.
Plus, the Bucs are entering their bye week. So he will miss at most three games, based on the timeline.
The depth behind Brate is intriguing as well. Second-year man Antony Auclair caught his first pass of the season against Chicago, and Alan Cross is a trusted backup. Odds are they will both only get a handful of snaps, but they may find themselves open as defenses shade towards Brate.
Tampa Bay’s roster is well suited to take a blow like this one. While Howard is a talented player, the length and depth behind him allow the Buccaneers offense to continue its roll.