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O.J. Howard 'a little bit' surprised by lack of production

Tight end O.J. Howard said the Saints' defensive scheme surprised the Buccaneers. Howard is also surprised by his own team's offensive scheme. Namely, that it hasn't involved him more.

"A little bit, but it's just one of those things where you've got to stay at it," Howard said, per the Tampa Bay Times. "Sometimes we don't play teams who give us what we thought we were going to get on film. So it's one of those things where you have to keep going and hopefully you get the good looks."

His head coach intimated Howard needs to create more separation and give quarterback Jameis Winston good looks as well.

"It's just a matter of opportunities," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. "He's going out for passes. It's just whether he's getting open."

That wasn't thought to be an issue for Howard entering Year 3. After modest production his first two seasons, 2019 was supposed to be a breakout campaign in Arians' new offense. Instead, Howard has just 11 catches for 141 yards. Even his 12.8 yards per catch is down about four yards from his career average.

The Alabama product believes it's partly a product of how teams are defending him. He had just one catch for 10 yards in a 31-24 loss to New Orleans this past Sunday.

"Nobody's going to keep it vanilla for you the whole time," he said afterward. "They're going to show different looks. They're going to bring different pressures that you don't expect. But that's why sometimes you have plays that are designed to (beat) any coverage or any look you get."

That would seem to be a shot at an offensive system that is producing 55.7 fewer yards per game compared to last season but 4.4 more points. Interestingly, that's come without Howard scoring a touchdown. He has 11 of them in his brief career, and it stands to reason the 2-3 Bucs would be better off if he added to that tally soon.

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