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Buccaneers’ Bruce Arians says ‘balls will come’ for OJ Howard

OJ Howard, Bruce Arians, Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end OJ Howard hasn’t exploded onto the scene as many expected him to, or as Bruce Arians hoped he could. Through two weeks of play, the 2017 first-round pick has just four receptions for 32 yards to his name (none in the second week).

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians says that will change soon, as “balls will come” his way. Said Arians, via The Athletic’s Greg Auman:

“The balls will come. We don’t dictate who gets the ball, the defense does, so sometimes it will spread around for different people every week.”

Arians statement comes off the heels of him blasting the tight end for not playing well. Saying after Thursday’s win over the Carolina Panthers on a question of why he’s not doing well, per Auman:

“You’d probably have to ask him. He has so much talent. He can play a heck of a lot better than he’s playing.”

So which is it? Will the defense dictate if Howard will get targets or does he needs to play “a heck of a lot better” than he is now? Perhaps it’s a mix of both, or the reality that Arians’ scheme historically doesn’t favor tight ends, even ultra-talented ones such as Howard.

Arians’ offense hinges on speed, while tight ends are mismatch options in the red zone or on checkdowns. However, the new Bucs head coach shouldn’t shy away from using Howard.

Maybe Tampa Bay will use Howard as a big slot receiver to create mismatches outside the red zone; he’s an athletic tight end with a history of doing so. Nonetheless, expect more targets his way in the coming weeks — if defenses let that happen.