The Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV even without their full complement of offensive weapons last season.
But one key factor should be back in 2021.
Tight end O.J. Howard tore his Achilles late in the Bucs’ Week Four victory over the Chargers, missing the rest of the year.
But according to head coach Bruce Arians, there’s reason for optimism with the young tight end heading into next season.
“He’s really close,” Arians said, via Scott Smith of the Buccaneers’ website. “He’s not running on the grass yet but he’s really close. The last time I checked it was 85 percent body weight running in ‘AlterG’ [treadmill] and [he] looks fantastic. I don’t see any setbacks. If and when we can get together in this offseason program, he’ll be ready to go.”
Howard caught 11 passes for 146 yards with a pair of touchdowns in four games last year. Since Tampa Bay selected him at No. 19 overall in 2017, he’s recorded 105 receptions for 1,602 yards with 14 TDs.
Howard hasn’t put up the most impressive numbers through the early part of his career. His high in catches is 34, yards is 565, and touchdowns is six.
But Arians still feels the tight end has plenty of potential.
“What a huge addition to have him back because he was having a great year,” Arians said. “I think, again, the sky’s the limit for what he can do in this offense.”