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Bucs tight end O.J. Howard: ‘I’ll be ready to go in no time’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) gains 15 yards and a first down during the first quarter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Washington Redskins on November 11, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The Washington Redskins defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 to 3. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) gains 15 yards and a first down during the first quarter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Washington Redskins on November 11, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The Washington Redskins defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 to 3. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published Nov. 26, 2018
Updated Nov. 27, 2018

TAMPA — Bucs tight end O.J. Howard has had a week to digest the fact that his season is over, but realizes the injury that ended his year could have been worse.

Howard, speaking for the first time since going on injured reserve with right ankle and foot injuries, was enjoying a breakout season. His 16.6 yards per catch led all starting tight ends, but for the second straight year, his season ended prematurely with an injury to the same leg.

He finished doing what he'd been able to do all season long: stretch the field as part of the Bucs' passing game. He caught a pass over the middle for a 24-yard gain and into the red zone in the fourth quarter of the Bucs' loss to the Giants two weeks ago. He was tackled from behind by Giants linebacker Tae Davis, whose weight came down on the back of his right leg.

"It's difficult," Howard said of the injury. "Two years in a row, just kind of unfortunate plays, I hurt my leg and my foot. I wanted to finish the season of course. I worked so hard and it's just kind of disappointing.

"I won't need surgery at all. That's the positive sign to it. It's going to heal on its own and I'll be ready to go in no time."

Howard said he should be able to have a normal offseason in preparation for 2019, saying that the injury will likely take four to six weeks to heal.

"But you never know," Howard said. "It just depends on how it goes in the treatment and rehabbing it."

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.