Bruce Arians: O.J. Howard Has To Get Physical

August 8th, 2021

Lot of practice targets.

Joe noticed during the last couple of days of training camp that former first-round pick O.J. Howard had been getting a lot of targets, especially from Tom Brady.

Now Joe wasn’t sure if part of this is because the Bucs are trying not to get foot-rubbing Rob Gronkowski worn down in the heat of August, or because Cam Brate has yet to be activated (no, his issue is still mysterious) or what?

So after practice Saturday, Joe asked Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians if the reason Howard had so many targets was a sign that Howard has fully recovered from his blown Achilles in October.

Arians told Joe that Howard had made good progress but he’s not completely back to his pre-Achilles-injury self.

“Yeah, he’s where he needs to be, he’s just got to get in shape, football shape,” Arians said. “Getting hit and things like that – he got knocked down when a guy was being blocked because he should have knocked the sh!t out of that guy and practiced that way.

“So it’s just getting back into hitting. As far as physical, he’s fine; it’s just playing football.”

To be fair, Howard has never been an intimidating physical presence. He’s far more Jimmy Graham than Gronk.

And if the Bucs continue to use Gronk as more of a blocking tight end with occasional passing targets, Howard really doesn’t need to play smashmouth football (though it would sure be nice).

The way Howard has been slicing through the Bucs defense on medium and deep routes in practice, he is looking sort of like the guy that was becoming a favorite of Brady’s before he blew that Achilles against the Chargers.

Still, what a wonderful addition to the Bucs to have a stretch-the-defense tight end like Howard rejoin the defending Super Bowl champion offense that averaged 30 points a game (including the postseason) without him.

31 Responses to “Bruce Arians: O.J. Howard Has To Get Physical”

  1. Tkras red Bozo lips Says:

    We’re balls deep into this guy’s career & still red flags everywhere

  2. Buxszntkt Says:

    Howard gets a lot of hype for someone who’s never really done much at the NFL level !

  3. Rico 210 Says:

    It’s all good. Keep it moving forward young man. We believe in you Howard
    20-0 till it ain’t so
    Go Bucs

  4. SOEbuc Says:

    The anticipation with Brate is killing me. Him and Tom were beginning to really click towards the end. And I’ll trust Tanner Hudson if he needed to step into the #2 TE spot.

  5. Bobby M. Says:

    When you take a TE with a #1 pick, he needs to be well rounded. IMO….Howard is hovering in the same realm as Rojo. You see the ability and you keep holding out hope it all comes together but its just not happening. When Howard is healthy, he has moments where he lacks focus….when he starts to show promise, he gets hurt. They really need him to solidify his role with the team….he could be extremely valuable for a young guy like Trask down the road but at this point I dont see the team extending/resigning Howard.

  6. dmatt Says:

    BA called it…Howard should’ve knocked the crap outta the guy who knocked the crap outta him. We have enough deep ball players so we don’t necessarily need him for that. We need him to quit being passive n intimidating for a player his size. Here we are in year four n we ‘re seeing the same evade a block or evade a tackle from a corner then run outta bounds. What good is it to have all the measurables bout don’t use them. We didn’t miss OJ last year, therefore, I’m fine with Tanner Hudson.

  7. Youngbucs Says:

    Rojo has balled when given the chance 🛑. And don’t give me his rookie year he didn’t play. Joe talks about that rookie season like he was given a real amount of carries.

  8. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    OJ will be fine, but thankful to have Gronk!

  9. DaBux Says:

    If OJ Howard wants to get paid, he has to have a complete season. Not just staying off IR, but doing his job. The Bucs need multi-dimensional players for the future also and someone who won’t/can’t block isn’t worth $6-$10 million per year as a TE.

  10. firethecannons Says:

    not thinking OJ is special until he is special, same goes for
    Tanner Hudson who is even less special

  11. Tkras red Bozo lips Says:

    Same as me, I’m 6’6 and couldn’t play junior college basketball because I’m so soft

  12. Bird Says:

    Here is hoping he can stay healthy

  13. Marine Buc Says:

    OJ continues the trend – look like Tarzan, at like Jane…

    Come on OJ. It’s now or never.

  14. Marine Buc Says:

    Let’s try that again shall we?

    “Look like Tarzan, play like Jane.

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    For 87

    Let’s get physical, physical
    I wanna get physical
    Let’s get into physical
    Let me hear your body talk, your body talk
    Let me hear your body talk
    Let’s get physical, physical
    I wanna get physical
    Let’s get into physical
    Let me hear your body talk, your body talk
    Let me hear your body talk

  16. gotbbucs Says:

    If he can’t put it together with this much talent around him, he never will. It’s pretty safe to say at this point that he has been a very disappointing 1st round selection.

  17. SB Says:

    OJ Howard is kind of a Kyle Pitts clone. WR/TE Hybrid not set up for straight up blocking but can catch anything. Problem with OJ is he can’t stay healthy. Doesn’t work hard enough either. Coasting I think

  18. crazybucs_CL Says:

    @…”To Get Physical”…he never will….. trade him, with the first chance u get…. hope that are still blind out there, and desperate….

  19. Capt.Tim Says:

    Im worried about a TE that has already proven to be special, and a Brady favorite.
    Cameron Brate.
    You think about a rookies potential
    If your still talking about potential- this far into a guys career, then talking is all you’ll ever do about him.

    Brate performs now, and has performed for years. Lucky yo have him, sucks that hes out right now.
    I gave up waiting on Howard to “arrive” a long time ago.

  20. David Says:

    Many are not expecting anything from OJ because , well, he hasn’t shown us enough yet.
    But… Brady started hitting him often early last year.
    And as a guy who played CB in college, I could not imagine lining up on defense with Evans, Godwin and Brown oat WR and Gronk and OJ at TE.

  21. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Almost assuredly Howard’s final season as a Buc. If he’s status quo…he’s gone…if he somehow has a career year…someone else will pay him to leave.

    Flashing on the highlight reel from the Buc website has been Tanner Hudson. He hasn’t looked ready for prime time during live, regular season action but could very well be a decent # 3 if O.J. falters/Brate remains on the PUP list.

  22. SB~LV Says:

    Well he did have two of those shallow crossings patterns under Dirk, his past is his future. I can’t imagine anything else, and oh , there is his Achilles

  23. m0j0 Says:

    The truth is the Bucs are stacked at TE. Howard will be a mismatch and will get a lot of looks because he’s too big and too fast and Brady will take advantage.

  24. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Howard is a good player…and still a bust. Until he proves otherwise, I won’t be changing that opinion.

  25. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Back when we drafted OJ Howard, the entire room at the draft day party I was at went WTF when we took him.
    So far, he has been a total bust, almost a wasted pick.
    Unless he really lights it up this year, doubt we will see him anymore.

  26. IrishMist Says:

    Maybe he could take lessons in physicality from the ball girl at Dodgers Stadium.

  27. Izod Says:

    Howard needs to toughen up, much like RoJo did. He’s got to get better at being a physical and even violent football player–both take and deliver hits better. Great athletes are a dime a dozen in this league, but it requires a warrior mentality to separate yourself.

  28. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Some Bucs fans: OJ has done nothing.

    Also some Bucs fans: I have faith in Tanner Hudson (5 catches in 2 years, 0 TD’s).

  29. Eddie Marz Says:

    O J Howard is a beast. I’m glad he’s on our team. I’m sure if he stays healthy he will be very productive. Go Bucs!

  30. Ronnell D Swain Says:

    Really fans there is nothing to be said negatively about howard most of you just look at stats but culture and opportunity he has excelled at both Tom Brady genuine tried to take advantage of him I don’t think any of you guys should question his effectiveness when Tom doesn’t ..we are not in the locker room so please just take notes …oj is a shaq the making he is a natural fear factor on the field.. Makes d’ coordinators think twice about putting a( lb .ss .cb)on a island 1v1 with him… And this is without a break out year..

  31. Bojim Says:

    See: The playoffs. Gronk has the whole off season. Throw to him. Once he gets that body between you and the ball, goodbye.