Bucs' O.J. Howard happy to return to Cards' stadium
The Bucs may have a rough recent history at Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium, having lost 40-7 there last year, but one Tampa Bay player has great memories of playing on that field.
Rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game in the national championship game against Clemson in January 2016, catching five passes for 208 yards and a pair of long touchdowns -- 53 and 51 yards -- in the Crimson Tide's 45-40 win over Clemson.
"It was incredible -- loud, nice field, grass was perfect," Howard said of his memories of playing there. "Just an amazing atmosphere in that stadium. Coming into it, we knew a lot of the defenses they were going to run, and Coach (Lane) Kiffin just did a great job of setting up plays for the tight ends to be successful. They came out in those defenses, we called those plays and I executed."
Howard has had a quiet first month in the NFL, with four catches for 92 yards in his first four games, most notably a 58-yard touchdown in a home win against the Giants. He said the experience he's gained has helped him immensely as he adjusts to the NFL game.
"I'm just getting more comfortable every day, coming to work and practicing hard," Howard said. "The little detail things, I'm chomping those things up and allowing myself to play faster."
Sunday is his first time back to Arizona since his huge showing in the championship game, and as was the case last time he's just hoping to come out with a win.
"It's a sweet feeling to get to go back, and I'm very excited about it," he said.