Rookie O.J. Howard finds NFL is like ‘an Alabama-LSU matchup every day’

Rookie O.J. Howard finds NFL is like ‘an Alabama-LSU matchup every day’

On the eve of his first NFL training camp, Tampa Bay tight end O.J. Howard shared what he’d learned about the NFL after going through the Buccaneers’ offseason program: The league is a lot like the SEC West.

“In the NFL, every guy’s really good,” Howard said during a press conference. “Like coach said, it’s like an Alabama-LSU matchup every day. That’s exactly what it is. It’s an SEC game every day for me. It’s no non-conference games. Everybody’s good. You have to have great technique, and it’s more mental than anything.”

The Bucs held their first full-squad practice of training camp on Friday. Tampa Bay kicks off its four-game preseason schedule on Aug. 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Howard said he hopes to keep growing in training camp the same way he did in OTAs and minicamp in May and June after joining Tampa Bay out of Alabama as the 19th player picked in the NFL Draft in April.

“I would say definitely I improved every practice,” Howard said. “We have a motto in our (tight ends) room: Don’t make the same mistake twice. So I tried to mess up on something new, if that makes sense, so I wasn’t taking back steps. I say I improved every day, but definitely not where I want to be. I want be able to come in and help the team any way I can, and I think that will happen over training camp once I keep getting reps at certain plays.”

As the Buccaneers’ top 2017 pick, Howard became the first tight end drafted in the first round by Tampa Bay.

“I want to go out and be the best player that I can be so I can help the team,” the former Autauga Academy standout said. “I don’t feel like I have to do too much. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me. I just feel like I have to go out there and help my team any way they need me.”

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The makers of the “Madden NFL 18” videogame think Howard’s going to be outstanding. With an 82 OVR, Howard drew the game’s second-highest rating among the NFL’s rookies, behind only No. 1 pick Myles Garrett, the Texas A&M defensive end who went to the Cleveland Browns.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Howard said. “I’m a Madden guy. That’s a pretty good rating overall. But some of my little attributes, I’m not as happy with that. But pretty cool overall.”

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Published at Fri, 28 Jul 2017 17:33:20 +0000