BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Unable to play quarterback right now for the Browns, Deshaun Watson tried some defense on Thursday.
Watson, who will miss his fourth game — and third start — on Sunday at Seattle with a right shoulder injury that has lingered longer than expected, dismissed the idea that he’s not doing all he can to get back on the field.
Watson’s aware his motivation is being questioned, and he’s not happy about it.
“Why wouldn’t I want to play? I just worked my (butt) off for two years to get back to playing,” said Watson, who sat out 2021 after demanding a trade from Houston and was suspended 11 games by the NFL last year. “So why wouldn’t I want to play? This is what I’ve been doing since I was 6 years old.
“I see all the narratives. All that stuff is just trying to cause controversy and commotion. I’m fine. I’m happy. I’m not happy with the injury, but I’m in a great space mentally. I’m in a great space spiritually. Physically everything else is in a great space except my shoulder. So we’re working hard to get that back.”
Watson has “residual” swelling in his shoulder and can’t throw with velocity, so the Browns (4-2) will start P.J. Walker this week against the Seahawks. Walker hasn’t played well, but Cleveland has won two straight with him as its primary QB.
The Browns are keeping Watson out of practice this week in order to focus on rehabbing his shoulder, which he said he hurt on a running play against Tennessee on Sept. 24.
Over the past month, mixed messaging from Watson and Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has fueled speculation about the severity of the injury.
It was initially called a bruised shoulder. Then, a strain. Last week, Watson said he had “microtears” in his rotator cuff, likened the injury to what a baseball pitcher might experience and said he didn’t know when he’d be back.
The Browns had expected Watson to play against Baltimore on Oct. 1 and he didn’t, a decision that came three hours before kickoff.
It then appeared he would return following Cleveland’s bye and face San Francisco on Oct. 15, but he didn’t. Last week, Watson practiced twice and started at Indianapolis but was out after 12 plays when he took another blow to his throwing shoulder.
“I thought I was ready,” said Watson, who completed 1 of 5 passes for 5 yards with an interception over his four series. “I wasn’t ready. I just didn’t have the strength and things like that to be able to go out there and play a full, complete game.”
The situation has been seemingly mishandled, and it’s not clear who is at fault.
While there have been some missteps, Watson insists he and the Browns are on the same page this week.
“Of course,” he said. “We all just came together. There’s no negative vibes or negative energy with this team, with this locker room or anything. We’re 4-2. This energy in this locker room and this team and the coaching staff, the front office, we’re in a great space.
“We enjoy our victories. We don’t care how we get ’em, as long as we get those W’s and we keep it pushing, we keep it going. So it’s always the next man up and all the other stuff, outside noise we don’t pay attention to.”
Watson reiterated a previous comment by Stefanski that he won’t need surgery. However, he’s not certain about when he’ll play again — the Browns host Arizona next week — or if the shoulder will bother him the rest of the season.
“As soon as possible,” he said when asked when he’ll be back. “We just gotta go through the process again and rehab and get back with the docs and try to strengthen it as much as possible and get the pain away.”
NOTES: Browns starting LT Jedrick Wills Jr. (foot/ankle) did not practice. RB Jerome Ford (ankle) also remains out and is expected to miss at least this week, if not more time. … LB Sione Takitaki (hamstring) and WR Marquise Goodwin (back) worked on the side.
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