Bills TE Dawson Knox Praises New Teammate as ‘Freak Athlete’

O.J. Howard

Getty O.J. Howard catches a pass during a Buffalo Bills practice.

Dawson Knox is ready to give opposing defenses nightmares next season — with the help of his “freakishly” talented new teammate.

The Buffalo Bills tight end is coming off a career season in 2021, and believes the tight end group will be even more dangerous in the coming season thanks to the addition of O.J. Howard. The Bills didn’t get much production out of their tight ends outside of Knox last year — Tommy Sweeney was the only other tight end with a catch, finishing the season with nine catches for 44 yards and one touchdown. With the acquisition of the former Alabama and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end, the Bills will have the opportunity to change that.

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Howard Catches Knox’s Attention

Speaking at training camp this week, Knox said he’s excited about the opportunities the Bills have now that Howard is on board. The Bills used two tight-end sets a league-low 100 times last season, the Democrat & Chronicle’s Sal Maiorana noted, but new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey will have more options now that Howard is on board.

“It’s fun having guys like O.J. in the room, there’s going to be a lot of diversity, a lot of versatility with the position now,” Knox said.

Howard helps add a great deal more athleticism as well. The 27-year-old is 6-foot-6 and 251 pounds and ran a 4.51 40-yard dash before he was drafted in the first round in 2017, putting him in the 96th percentile among tight ends.

“I mean he’s a freak athlete,” Knox said. “He makes me feel small, I mean the dude’s like you know 6’6, his arms are massive. Just having another weapon like that’s just gonna make us that much harder to stop, so I think he’s just going to push me to be better too I think.”

Knox said he’s excited for the team to be able to run more two tight-end sets, giving a boost to the running game that faltered at times last season while creating some favorable matchups for the new tight-end duo.

“It’s just an extra piece that you know is going to be a nightmare to defend for defenses right?” Knox said. “Oh yeah, we can’t wait. It’s going to be a nightmare for a lot of defenses.”

Howard Looking to Bounce Back

After catching 94 passes for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns through his first three years in the NFL, Howard took a step back in the last two seasons. He suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon in the fourth game of the 2020 season, then caught just 14 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown last season as Rob Gronkowski became the primary pass-catching tight end for the Buccaneers.

Howard said he initially didn’t have the Bills on his radar as he headed into free agency, but his agent convinced him to consider it.

“As the process went on, a lot of teams I wanted to go to weren’t really working out in my favor, then my agent was like, ‘Hey, Buffalo, look at this, they’re interested, let’s look at it on paper.’” Howard said during an appearance on WGR-550 radio. “When I knew what was on the roster and [Bills QB] Josh Allen at the helm, it was a no brainer.”

Howard added that he was impressed with Allen when their teams played in Week 14. Though the Buccaneers won the game in overtime, Allen engineered a 21-point comeback to tie the game late in what many considered his best performance of the season.

“I looked over at one of our guys and was like, ‘This dude is tough,’” Howard said. “That game right there showed me this team has toughness and grit.”

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