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O.J. Howard “still catching up” after torn Achilles

Mike Florio talks about potential standout teams for 2021 NFL season and who could be the biggest threats to the Bucs and Chiefs as Super Bowl contenders.

The story of the Buccaneers offseason was that they brought back all of the key players from last season’s Super Bowl champs, which didn’t leave them much room or need to bring in players from outside the organization.

While there aren’t splashy new names on the roster, there is one notable name who wasn’t around for the win over the Chiefs. Tight end O.J. Howard tore his Achilles in Week 4 and missed the rest of the year, but is back in action and making a bid for playing time in a deep offense.

On Monday, head coach Bruce Arians updated that effort and said that Howard hasn’t made it all the way back from the injury at this point.

“He’s getting back,” Arians said at his press conference. “He’s not there yet. He had a chance to make a couple grimy chances in the end zone today [and] didn’t come up with them. I expect him to make those. He’s still catching up to the speed of it and the physicality of it. He’s been out a long time, so he needs this camp.”

The Bucs just activated Cam Brate from the physically unable to perform list and still have Rob Gronkowski, so they are well stocked at tight end with or without Howard being at 100 percent. Should he get there, the Bucs will be even tougher on opposing defenses.