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Alabama in the Pros

O.J. Howard Proving to be a Legitimate Receiving Threat in Rookie Year

© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The wackiest team in the NFL this season, by far, has been the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With so many tremendous offseason additions, the Bucs looked to be more than just a young team on the rise. The 2017 campaign was supposed to be the coming-out party of Jameis Winston and company, but a slew of short-comings has them staring at an abysmal 4-6 record ten games in, instead.

One bright spot for the up-and-down Buccaneers this season is the play they have gotten out of their first-round rookie tight end, O.J. Howard. Though his season, too, has been defined by either plethora or drought, when his number is called he has been as solid as anyone.

In Sunday’s game against Miami, he looked like one of backup quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s, favorite targets. Howard caught three of his four targets for 54 yards and a touchdown in the surprise 30-20 victory. However, his season has been a case of when it rains it pours, so his cumulative numbers are anything but eye-popping.

The more impressive games of his rookie season have been sprinkled in amidst the less-than-stellar games of 0, 12, 15, 16 and 17 yards. In Week 4 against the Giants, Howard caught 2-of-4 targets for 63 yards in addition to scoring his first professional touchdown. Three weeks later against the Buffalo Bills he had a Pro Bowl-esque game, catching all six of his targets for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

When faced with ugly seasons like these, it is important to look at the positives. O.J. Howard has definitely been a positive, and if they can improve their offensive line during the offseason, should be a huge asset going forward for their offense.

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