In addition to their struggles on the field with a four game losing streak, the Buccaneers continue to get nothing but bad news on the injury front. This after Tuesday revealed that they will placed second-year tight end O.J. Howard on injured reserve with foot and ankle injuries suffered in the loss to the Giants Sunday.
Howard was injured on a tackle after making a catch in the fourth quarter, which ended his day, and ultimately, ended his second season. A season in which, he has blossomed into one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL.
Howard has 34 catches for 565 yards (16.6 avg) and five touchdowns this year. His yards per catch ranks first for tight ends and the five TDs has him third among tight ends in that catetgory.
With O.J. Howard headed to injured reserve, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost the highest graded tight end in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/nEVKNuvftd
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 21, 2018
The 2017 #1 pick out of Alabama had also become a security blanket on third down and in the red zone and had basically taking over that role that fellow tight end Cameron Brate had been playing.
Howard’s trip to injured reserve puts him with former 2016 number 1 pick, defensive back Vernon Hargreaves, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the opening win over New Orleans. Also, Pro Bowl linebacker from a year ago, Kwon Alexander, was lost for the season with a torn ACL in the week six game with Cleveland.
The Bucs also saw perennial Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy missed two games last month with a calf injury, and he has struggled, since his return a couple of games ago, and doesn’t look a hundred percent.
Rookie 2nd round pick in April, running back Ronald Jones, had begun to see some playing time recently after being inactive for the first three games of the season. However, he suffered a hamstring injury in Cincinnati four weeks ago, and has not played in the Bucs last three games.
Back to Howard, this is the second year in a row that he suffered a season-ending injury at the end of the year. In 2017, he suffered a fractured ankle in the Monday night December lost to the Atlanta Falcons
In addition to Brate, who turned into one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL in 2015-16 himself, the Bucs will now count on former undrafted tight end Anthony Auclair to help fill the void with Howard’s injury departure.
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