O.J. Howard's yearlong journey back to the endzone

Bucs' tight end ruptured his Achilles tendon in Week 4 last season
Posted at 2:24 PM, Oct 20, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Nothing was going to stop Tampa Bay Buccaneers' tight end O.J. Howard from catching his first touchdown pass in over a year Thursday night in Philadelphia.

“I ran into a guy, I stumbled,” Howard said. “I can’t fall. I got to score this one. I got a chance to be open.”

It was only a two-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady, but Howard’s road back to the field was much longer after rupturing his Achilles tendon in Week 4 against the Chargers last season.

“He was scratching the surface,” Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said. “He was coming on like gangbusters when he got hurt. That’s a hard injury to get over. It’s a 12-month job. He’s doing a heck of a job right now.”

Howard matched a career-high with six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown in that 28-22 win against the Eagles.

“I felt good,” Howard said. “I felt like a complete player out there this weekend.”

But sometimes that injury can linger in the back of his mind.

“As you do have a great supporting cast around you, good teammates, guys are saying we still see it,” Howard said. “You’re kind of favoring this, favoring that. Then you go back and look at the film, maybe I am. To me, I told myself that I was good and not picking a side or favoring anything.”

After Howard spiked his first touchdown, he tracked down the football to keep as a memento.

“I kept the ball. I’m going to get it signed. First touchdown since the injury. It’s going to be something that I will remember,” Howard said.