Of all the excitement had about the Bucs returning all 22 of their starters, let’s not forget that they’re getting O.J. Howard back as well.
The very talented tight end missed the rest of the 2020 season after suffering an Achilles injury in a Week 4 win over the Chargers. He’s another weapon in a star-studded lineup that Tom Brady will have at his disposal this season.
Howard was a guest on the Pat McAfee show on Tuesday, where he explained how the Achilles tear occurred.
"When I got to the sidelines I told the trainers somebody kicked me in the back of my foot..
“My teammate Ke’Shawn Vaughn scored his first career touchdown, so it was loud,” Howard said. “It was a big touchdown in the game, so I didn’t hear anything. I just felt it, it felt like a guy kicked me. So I went to the sideline and turned around looking like ‘who kicked me? I tripped up’. When I got to the sideline I told the trainers that somebody kicked me in the back of my foot and he was like ‘nobody was around you on that play, Juice’. I was like ‘damn’.”
When that first instance of an Achilles injury went into his mind, Howard couldn’t help but think of two prolific NBA players that suffered the same injury: the late Hall Of Famer Kobe Bryant and superstar forward Kevin Durant.
“I remember what Kobe said, [what] Kevin Durant said,” Howard said. “I knew then what it was. It was just like that, like somebody shoots you or kicked you in the back of the leg.”
As hard as that situation was, Howard is back on the mend. He stated that he’s in month eight of a nine-month recovery and is even running close to full speed at the moment. The surgical process itself stood out, with the procedure taking less than half an hour.
“Everything’s going good,” Howard said. “I’m 90 percent right now. The recovery is going well, I’m just grinding and rehabbing every day, so it’s going really good. The whole process – it was COVID so I wanted to go to Green Bay and go with Dr. Andrews, but I talked to him.
“He was like ‘Nowadays, this surgery, guys will bounce back 100 percent. If there’s a doctor you trust that can do it, go with him. You can come to me, but with COVID, you don’t really have to. A lot of people know how to do the surgery’. It was only a 20-minute surgery. I was in there 20 minutes, came out and went home the same day. It’s a six-to-nine month recovery. I’m on month eight, I’m running full speed, 90 percent, so it’s going along really well.”
You can watch the full episode of the Pat McAfee show, including the entire segment with Howard, right here.