It’s a make or break year for OJ Howard

OJ Howard is on the hot seat.

If thee is one Buccaneer player that must have a breakout season it is OJ Howard.

After his very good rookie season in which Howard caught 34 passes with six touchdowns, Howard has regressed the last two seasons and was very fortunate to have the final year of his contract picked up.

Howard was in the doghouse of coach Bruce Arians last season whether Arians will admit it or not.

Arians does not take dropping passes and the inability to block very well, and Howard paid the price last season with a reduction in playing time.

Howard was the subject of trade rumors last season, and was talked about as being part of a trade that would bring Rob Gronkowski to Tampa.

That part of the deal never happened As the Bucs acquired Gronkowski for a fourth round pick.

This is going to be a hard year for Howard to show the Bucs coaching staff what he can do. With Rob Gronkowski firmly entrenched as the starter, Howard may end as the number three tight end behind Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate

So what does Howard need to do to get back the trust of the Bucs coaches and get more playing time?

Just do the job. I know that sounds basic and elementary, but that is all Arians expects.

Make the catch when the ball is thrown to you. The drops that Howard had last year seemed to come at critical points in the game. Howard was targeted 53 times with 34 catches.

Photo  Courtesy of Draftkings.com

Howard’s confidence also began to wane as the 2019 season played out. Howard caught 34 balls for 459 yards and just one touchdown in 14 games in 2019.

Although Howard matched his career-high catches from the 2018 season with 34 catches, his touchdowns have decreased the last three years going from six to one.

Howard also has seen his yards per catch dwindle since his rookie year.

Howard must improve his blocking. With Gronkowski as the starter, if Howard wants to impress the coaches he has to become a better blocker.

He may not get the touches that he is looking for, but being on the field in the game contributing is better than wearing a sun visor on the sideline.

Howard will make the team unless he pulls a Vernon Hargreaves and does not give a good effort.

Tight ends with Howard’s size, 6 foot 6, 251 pounds, with his raw ability don’t come along every day.

Howard is not only playing to not impress the Bucs coaches this year, but he is also playing for a second contract.

I’m sure Howard would like to get paid. It is a chance for Howard to get a nice payday with a good season.

Howard will get paid if he can hang on to the ball and become a better blocker. Someone will be waiting to sign Howard in 2020 if the Bucs do not sign Howard to another contract.