In a 4-13 season filled with injuries, COVID-19 and quarterback changes, Tytus Howard emerged as a bright spot in an unlikely place.
Entering his third NFL season, Howard likely expected to find himself lining up at right tackle, where he started every game for the previous two seasons. Instead, he bounced to the opposite side. After Training Camp presented by Xfinity, Howard was named starter at the left guard spot but moved to left tackle in Week 12.
"He was heading into the season with him, and LT (Laremy Tunsil) were going to be the best tackle duo, and they might have been, but then LT gets hurt," OL Justin Britt said. "He gets asked to move to left guard and that was not that much of a learning curve for him because he's played left tackle before. He just had to find his rhythm there. He finds his rhythm. He's playing pretty good ball, and then they ask him to move to left tackle, which I thought he did exceptional. He's a hard worker. He's still young. He's got a lot of football left in him. I don't see why he couldn't be the best."
Despite never starting in the NFL at left tackle until Nov. 28 against the New York Jets, Howard seemed at home back at the tackle position this season. From Weeks 12-14, Howard earned an 87.7 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, ranking second among tackles and fourth among all offensive linemen with at least 150 blocking snaps during that span. Howard finished as PFF's highest-graded pass-blocking tackle among the four weeks he started at left tackle with a grade of 89.9.
"This kid does everything you ask," OL Coach James Campen said. "He tries things, been very flexible. We've been very fortunate that he's able to step into guard, step out of tackle at a hiccup's notice and credit to him, he's a very smart kid. I mean, heck, he could tell you all five positions and probably the tight end position on the team. He's very smart. He's a cerebral kid that learns very quickly, and I just think he's just gotten better every single week."
Howard started a career-high 15 games in 2021, 11 games at left guard and four at left tackle. A 2019 first-round draft pick, Howard admitted his natural position was tackle but adjusted to whatever position was required of him each week. With experience now at left guard, right tackle and left tackle, Howard hopes to build on what he's learned heading into Year 4.
"I think as the season went along, things got better and better for me," Howard said. "I think I got better again this year than I was last year. So, coming into this offseason, my only goal is to get better and improve for next season and be the best I can be."
Howard has started all 37 games he's appeared in, playing at right tackle (21 starts), left guard (12 starts) and left tackle (four starts). Howard was a 2019 All-Rookie Team selection by the PFWA after starting eight games as a right tackle.
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