NFL: Deshaun Watson on debut: ‘Don’t know when it’s going to come back’

Deshaun Watson won his debut with the Cleveland Browns last week in Houston. The result was one of few positives for the quarterback in his first game in 700 days.

Watson completed 12 of 22 passes, was intercepted in the end zone and totaled 131 yards without a TD drive.

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“I don’t know when it’s going to come back,” Watson said Thursday. “I don’t know if it was going to be last week, this week. My job is to just keep getting better and when it clicks, it clicks, and everyone will feel that.”

Suspended for 11 games this season after sitting out all of 2021 as a member of the Texans, Watson’s reputation, timing, mechanics, conditioning and confidence all need to be rebuilt, in his own estimation.

More than two dozen women accused Watson of sexual assault and sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. The NFL investigation found Watson’s behavior to be predatory and intentional, leading to the ban under the league’s personal conduct policy. He was also fined $5 million.

With that backdrop and the implied pressure of a fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Browns, Cleveland improved to 5-7 in Houston and is still alive in the AFC playoff picture.

“The last week, it was a lot. The anticipation to be back on the field. The anticipation of going back to my former team. The anticipation, playing against former teammates and being in front of a crowd that used to cheer for me at the time,” Watson said. “All that stuff was definitely, it was a lot. I’m human. So, I definitely have things running through my mind. I’m glad that’s out the way, I’m glad we got the win. I’m just trying to look forward to this week. It’s going to be a hostile environment in Cincinnati. It’s going to be fun and we just got to go out there and just make sure we execute the game plan.”

The teams in front of the Browns in the AFC North — the Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) and Baltimore Ravens (8-4) — are up next on the schedule.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski, also the offensive play-caller for the Browns, said there is a timing and connectivity element for Watson’s teammates that will come with more reps.

“Deshaun, that is his first start so he got the first one out of the way, and I know he is looking forward to turning the page, really diving into Cincinnati, understanding this defense, putting together a plan and going out here and working on it this week,” Stefanski said. “I think that really becomes our focus.”

–Field Level Media

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