He was a national champion at Alabama. He was a top 20 pick by the Bucs.

OJ Howard’s potential was limitless in Tampa Bay, but could never quite be reached.

“I loved the learning curve that I went through and the experiences,” Howard said. “Just never could really put it all together as far as all the injuries. Just being consistent is the biggest thing I learned about my old time in Tampa for sure.”

That time with the Bucs was plagued by ankle and foot injuries. Howard missed 22 games over his first four seasons.

He signed with the Bills on a one-year deal and formed a potentially dangerous tight end duo with Dawson Knox.

“A fresh start is always good for everybody,” Howard said. “I’m just happy for new beginnings to make a great impression and go out and have fun and play the game I love.”

Howard’s injury problems came to an unfortunate climax in 2020 when he tore his Achilles tendon. It’s a nasty injury for any professional athlete to rehab.

However, Howard had quite a silver lining on the year itself. His daughter was born and, later that season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.

“It was a great year for me, man,” Howard said. “Especially with the pandemic being that whole year, I really couldn’t have drawn it up any better. There were some moments with my daughter that I never would have got to have if I was playing football, traveling every week.”

Last year, Howard was able to stay healthy and play a full season. He says he’s actually learned how to stay out of the trainer’s room.

“I just found ways to prehab and stay on top of that. You can kind of feel when things are off when you go through so many injuries,” Howard said.

Howard has one Super Bowl ring was earned watching from the sidelines. He could be a big reason why the Bills tap their limitless potential and finally get a ring for Buffalo.