The Buccaneers used a first-round pick on O.J. Howard in 2017 hoping he’d be their difference-maker at tight end.
This offseason brought in a guy who has been one for years.
But Howard doesn’t view the addition of Rob Gronkowski as a threat, but something that makes the entire team more dangerous.
‘‘We’ve got a room full of talent, mismatches, guys all over the board,” Howard said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “I think coach [Bruce Arians] and Byron [Leftwich] are going to do a great job of just putting us in positions to make plays.
“Just being on the field with [Gronkowski] . . . it’s just hard to stop that. It’s going to open up a lot of things for everyone, and I think it should be real fun.”
Howard’s had an up-and-down career, showing flashes of ability, between injuries which take him off the field. But he’s apparently rejuvenated by the offseason additions, and is having a good camp. Though there were reports Howard might have wanted to be traded, the Bucs picked up his 2021 option, and now are considering all the options they have at the position.
“I think the trade talk was outside the building,” Arians said. “I never talked to him about it. All I talked to him about was getting better, and he was going to be here for a while and believe it. I think with Tom helping him confidence-wise and watching Gronk work, they’ve been a good combination helping each other. . . .
“When you have one of the best to ever play help you become a better player, you listen. Sometimes those voices are better than coaches’ voices. That work they put together out at Berkeley [Preparatory School] was huge for both of them. I think O. J. is playing at an extremely high level right now and I would not expect to see any kind of dropoff, only continued growth.”
The Bucs are blessed with plenty of talent at the position with Cameron Brate in the mix, and they clearly plan to use them in combination this year.