Buccaneers: Losing O.J. Howard proving to be a much bigger deal

O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Tampa Bay Buccaneers are missing their injured tight end

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered an impactful injury early on in the season, but no one really knew the extent of how much the injury would mean for the team as they made their push towards the playoffs.

Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard suffered a ruptured Achilles just four weeks into the season that put him on the sideline for the remainder of the year as he attempts to make a recovery for the 2021 campaign.

Before Howard went out, he had made 11 catches for 146 yards (13.3 YPC) and had two touchdowns in the four games. While that doesn’t seem like a lot on the surface, he was on pace to have easily the best season of his career and was giving the Buccaneers something they hadn’t had in a while: A legitimate receiving threat and elite depth at the tight end position.

Howard’s loss didn’t seem to be a huge deal when it happened, but it’s proving to be much more impactful for the Buccaneers

There’s no doubt that Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate are both still talented and serviceable tight ends, but neither can do what Howard could do in creating separation in the passing game.

Brate has begun to gain chemistry with Tom Brady over the last couple of weeks, no doubt, but there’s just something about what Howard could bring to the table.

Can you imagine if Howard was still in the offense what that might open up for receivers around him? It would put a strain on opposing defensive backfields because there’s not too many linebackers or safeties who can guard him and it would’ve made Brady’s job a lot easier.

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Things can’t always work out,  but it seems more and more obvious now that the O.J. Howard injury was a bigger loss than many originally realized.