O.J. Howard

O.J. Howard

Preseason

Chance of Injury in 2020: question mark 97%
Chance of Injury per Game: question mark 19.7%
Projected Games missed for 2020: question mark 2.6
Durability: question mark 2

High Risk

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O.J. Howard Player Overview

It was possible to talk yourself into Howard last year, despite HC Bruce Arians’ shaky history of TE production. But it sure didn’t pan out. Even Arians struggled to explain why: “It’s hard to say (what’s wrong). He’s a talented, talented guy, but it’s not showing up on Sundays.”

Despite persistent rumors, the Buccaneers have fought off any urge to trade Howard and did pick up the 2021 option on his rookie deal. So they clearly don’t hate him. But they also imported Rob Gronkowski this offseason to pair with new QB Tom Brady.

We’ll have to see what that means for Howard’s playing time. Arians has called the 2-TE approach his “base” offense, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be Tampa’s most frequent alignment. The Bucs ran “12” personnel -- 1 RB, 2 TEs, 2 WRs, the most common multiple-TE set -- on 23% of offensive plays last season, and that ranked 8th highest in the league. Overall, they ran multiple TEs on just 27% of offensive plays.

At the same time, Arians also said he’d “like to see us use some more four wide receiver sets, if those guys show up.” And he said he’s been “huge” on 12-personnel since his days as Pittsburgh OC (2007-11).

His teams since then haven’t generally found more than 40% playing time for multiple TEs, though. Last year’s Bucs got Cameron Brate on the field just 37.9% of the time as Tampa’s #2 TE. Before that, just 2 of Arians’ 5 Cardinals teams had a 2nd TE reach 40% playing time. And his 2012 Colts got Fleener on the field 38.6% of the time.

Perhaps Howard -- who played a career-high 79.7% of the snaps over his 14 games last season -- rebounds from last year’s performance and remains the snap leader among Bucs TEs. He certainly has displayed the receiving and blocking ability to do so. But Gronk also poses a much bigger challenge to that than Brate, and brings a longer record of performance and production as both a receiver and a blocker.


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O.J. Howard Injury History

Date League Injury Details
Oct 23, 2019 NFL Thigh Hamstring Strain Grade 2 Howard was limited in Buccaneers' practice due to a hamstring injury ahead of the game against Titans. He missed two games due to an injury
Nov 18, 2018 NFL Pedal Foot Sprain Howard suffered unspecified injuries to his right foot and ankle on the same play in the 4th quarter of Week 11 and landed on IR.
Nov 18, 2018 NFL Pedal Ankle (high) Sprain Grade 3 Howard sustained unspecified injuries to his right ankle and foot on the same play in the 4th quarter of Week 11. He missed the rest of the season.
Dec 18, 2017 NFL Pedal Ankle (high) Sprain Grade 3 Howard suffered a high ankle sprain on a blow to his right leg as he went into the end zone in the 1st quarter against the Falcons. He spent the final 2 games on IR.
Nov 16, 2013 Non-NFL Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1