More consistency in leadership and better decision making as a passer are both critical aspects for quarterback Jameis Winston, as Tampa Bay tries to erase a terrible 5-11 finish to 2017.
Along with that, Buccaneers’ coach Dirk Koetter needs to incorporate ways for second-year tight end O.J. Howard to be involved on offense. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound specimen caught 26 passes last season for 432 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He turned in a marquee outing in week six versus the Buffalo Bills, snatching six passes for 98 yards with two scores in a 30-27 loss.
At Alabama, Howard possessed the traits of being an athletic pass catcher but the Crimson Tide only targeted him in certain situations. While he ended up having over 1,000 yards receiving in Tuscaloosa, the former five-star anticipates having more say on offense this fall in the NFL.
“There is going to be more on my plate this year,” he said to yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine at his youth camp last week. “There is going to be more asked of me and it is a task that I am ready to take the next step and achieve.”
The lone thing standing in Howard’s way of more action is fifth-year player, Cameron Brate.
Brate, an alumnus of Harvard University, was an undrafted free agent in 2014. He signed with the Buccaneers and after being released by the team and the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 16, 2015, Brate found himself back at Tampa Bay six days later as a member of the Bucs’ roster.
He has accounted for 129 receptions for 1,556 yards and 17 touchdowns, including 48 catches for 591 yards receiving with six scores in 2017. Brate signed a six-year, $41 million extension with the team on March 12, 2018 and the 26-year-old expects his value to continue growing.
Howard has three years left on his rookie contract – four years, $11 million – with the potential of having a fifth-year option picked up, should he break out this season. It will be interesting to see how the Bucs handle he and Brate moving forward, but Howard is poised for a big year.