The injuries keep coming for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as tight end O.J. Howard is expected to miss the rest of the season. Howard injured his Achilles against the Chargers, but the tight end had three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown prior to leaving the game. During his post-game press conference, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians indicated Howard has a ruptured Achilles and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
It is an unfortunate blow for Howard who was on pace to have a nice bounce-back season with Tom Brady after struggling in 2019. The good news for the Bucs is the team has a good bit of depth at the position with Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.
“Yeah, he was having a great, great game and I thought Tommy [Brady] was going to throw it to him for the touchdown when he threw it to Ke’Shawn [Vaughn],” Arians explained. “It looks like he has a ruptured Achilles and will probably be done for the year.”
Prior to the Injury, Howard Was Building Chemistry With Brady
Throughout training camp and early in the season, Howard gushed about playing with Brady and how he had turned around the culture in Tampa. At the start of the season, Howard described what it was like to play with Brady.
“He was telling guys, ‘Hey, man, we’re still in it. Let’s not get our heads down. We got a lot of ball to play. We’re going to go out here, we’re going to get a drive going, we’re going to make some plays,’” Howard explained after losing to the Saints, per AL.com. “Because we started off with the first drive. We went down and scored, so that let us know right there what we could do, so Tom was just telling everyone, ‘Hey, let’s not worry about this. Let’s get it going. We’ve done it once. Let’s do it again.’”
Brady on Howard’s Injury: ‘It Sucks to Lose Him’
Brady reflected on Howard’s injury after the game praising how hard the tight end has worked since the offseason. The Bucs quarterback admitted “it sucks to lose him” when asked about the likelihood that Howard will miss the rest of the season.
“It’s a tough injury,” Brady noted in his post-game press conference. “I think everyone feels for O.J. and what his commitment [has] been to the team through the offseason, training camp. He’s just been a great player for us. It sucks to lose him. It is a tough injury.”
Amidst Howard’s absence, Gronkowski came up with a clutch reception late in the fourth quarter. Gronkowski has struggled to find a consistent role in the offense since arriving in Tampa. It will be worth watching to see if Howard’s unfortunate injury could open up more opportunities for Gronkowski to connect with his long-time quarterback in the Buccaneers offense.
The Buccaneers are dealing with a number of injuries to their top offensive weapons. After the Buccaneers’ win over the Chargers, Arians admitted that Chris Godwin is unlikely to play against the Bears in Week 5. Mike Evans also left the Bucs-Chargers game with an ankle injury but was able to return despite looking to be in significant pain.