An MRI confirmed a season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon for Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard.
The former first-round pick sustained the injury during Sunday’s 38-31 win against the Los Angeles Chargers. He had three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown before he left the game in the second half.
The 25-year-old Howard is in his fourth season with Tampa Bay, which selected him 19th overall out of Alabama in 2017. He has 105 receptions for 1,602 yards and 14 touchdowns with the Bucs. This is the third time he has ended a season on injured reserve.
On the season, Howard had 11 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
His absence could increase the importance of veteran Rob Gronkowski in the Tampa Bay passing game. The four-time All-Pro had one catch for 29 yards on Sunday, giving him nine receptions for 88 yards on the season.
Gronkowski, 31, was a limited participant in Monday’s practice due to a shoulder injury and his status is unknown for Thursday night’s game in Chicago against the Bears. Both teams are 3-1.
To fill Howard’s slot, the Bucs signed wide receiver Cyril Grayson from the practice squad on Tuesday. Grayson, 26, has one catch for 3 yards in three career games with Tampa Bay.