If O.J. Howard gets the kind of opportunity other tight ends his size (and smaller) get, his Round 6 price tag will be an absolute steal. The 6-foot-6 behemoth has averaged 16.6 yards per catch through his first two seasons with 11 touchdowns in 24 games. However, he's averaged just 3.6 targets per game through his career as his coaches have struggled to find ways to unlock him. New Bucs coach Bruce Arians is an offensive guru, but if he struggles to differentiate Howard from the rest of his pass-catchers, including fellow giant tight end Cameron Brate, then it could be a long season and an even murkier future for Howard.
Howard (ankle) was seen running routes for Patrick Mahomes in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports. Both of Howard's first two seasons as a pro were cut short by injuries to his right ankle and/or foot, limiting him to 24 of a possible 32 appearances. With 16.6 yards per catch, 11.5 yards per target and an 18.3 percent touchdown rate (11 TDs on 60 receptions) in his career, he's been dynamic when on the field and now will be operating under new coach Bruce Arians. Assuming he can stay healthy in 2019, Howard is a breakout candidate by any measure.
Howard (ankle) finished the 2018 season with 34 receptions (48 targets) for 565 yards and five touchdowns before being placed on injured reserve prior to Week 12. The second-year tight end was in the midst of one of his best performances of the season in Week 11 against the Giants (five receptions, 78 yards) before sustaining an ankle injury that ultimately landed him on injured reserve. Prior to the 2018 season, the Bucs had made a commitment to utilize Howard more as the downfield threat he'd proven to be in college, following a rookie 2017 campaign in which he was relied on heavily as an in-line blocker. Former coach Dirk Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken made good on that pledge, as Howard established himself as one of the true down-the-seam threats at his position while generating a 16.6 YPC that was tops among tight ends and served as the ninth-highest figure among all pass catchers in the NFL. Howard eclipsed the 60-yard mark in six of the 11 games he did suit up for, and irrespective of who's calling plays in Tampa next season, he figures to play a prominent role in the air attack.
Howard (ankle) is still wearing a hard cast but expects to recover from his injury within 4-to-6 weeks, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. While his own estimate needs to be taken with a grain of salt, Howard might have avoided injured reserve if the Buccaneers had still been in the playoff hunt. As is, he'll set his sights toward a full recovery before the start of the team's offseason program in April, hoping to build on a breakout 2018 campaign in which he produced 56.5 yards per game while averaging 16.6 per catch and 11.8 per target. The Bucs would be wise to give him more than 4.8 targets per game next season, but it may require the team to part ways with the likes of Cameron Brate, Adam Humphries and/or DeSean Jackson to ensure that happens.
Howard (ankle) will not require surgery for his ankle and foot injuries that will force him to injured reserve, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Howard's 2018 season is over regardless of whether Howard needs surgery, but this at least bodes well in terms of the extent of rehab required to return to form. The second-year tight end had come into his own this season prior to the injury, racking up 34 catches for 565 yards and five touchdowns over 10 games. Without him available moving forward, Cameron Brate figures to slot in as the team's primary tight end.
The Buccaneers will place Howard on injured reserve Tuesday with ankle and foot injuries, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Howard sustained the two injuries on the same play during Sunday's 38-35 loss to the Giants. The 24-year-old will finish the campaign on IR for the second time in as many years, providing a disappointing conclusion to what was shaping up to be a breakout season. The Buccaneers will look to Cameron Brate to serve as the primary replacement at tight end for Howard, who had recorded 34 receptions for 565 yards and five scores in 10 games.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/08||San Francisco 49ers||4||4.75|
|3||09/22||New York Giants||19||7.38|
|4||09/29||@Los Angeles Rams||23||7.89|
|5||10/06||@New Orleans Saints||14||6.22|
|11||11/17||New Orleans Saints||14||6.22|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||44||30||498||6||24||16.60||83|