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O.J. Howard credits rise to 'crazy' portion of Alabama practice

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After meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Alabama's pro day and the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, top tight end prospect O.J. Howard is going back to the grind.

The quiet times are likely aided by the overwhelming positivity that has underlined his pre-draft season. After wowing at the NFL Scouting Combine in early March and putting on a strong performance at his pro day, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks called Howard the most complete tight end prospect that he's seen in the last 10 years.

When informed of the report, Howard had one thing to credit: The inside run portion of practice, where the notoriously physical Crimson Tide reps all of their power running plays.

"Playing at the University of Alabama, you have to learn how to block because we run the ball a lot," Howard said. "I did a lot of read-option-type blocking for the quarterback, that sort of thing. Over four years, I changed my offense like three times and I adjusted well, so I can kind of play in any offense the NFL throws my way because I did it in college."

Howard is separating himself from the rest of the field because he never has to leave it. Teams like the Giants, who had an official meeting with Howard at the combine, run almost strictly out of an 11 personnel (three wideouts, a running back and a tight end) and do not want to pause their muddle-huddle system to sub in a blocking tight end. They also do not want to tip the kind of play they're running, making Howard an ideal transition piece for any system.

"You have to like blocking, because if not, you're not going to play a lot," Howard said. "I didn't do a lot of it in high school, but once I got to college, (I) got used to it.

"Inside run at Alabama is very crazy. People are up there fighting. It's very physical, very intense. A lot of pride in that drill because everyone knows you're running. It's called 'team run' for a reason. It's one-on-one blocking and the low man wins."

Howard said his nemesis during those drills -- in the best possible sense -- was fellow senior Ryan Anderson, a top prospect in his own right. Howard said he's not going to forget to thank Anderson for all the hard work once he hears his name called.

"He already knows," Howard said.

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