The Browns won a shootout against the Colts in Week 7, the contest which marked Deshaun Watson‘s return to action. That did not last long for the Cleveland quarterback, however, as he exited the game early.
Watson took a hit in the first quarter which appeared to reaggravate his shoulder injury. That ailment led to a surprise deactivation in Week 4, and was later diagnosed as a micro tear in his right rotator cuff. The Browns adopted a week-to-week approach with their high-priced passer, understandably proceeding with caution given his importance to the team’s offense (especially with star running back Nick Chubb out for the season).
After a brief evaluation period, Watson was cleared to return to the game , head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed when speaking to reporters. It was out of an abundance of caution, he added, that he decided to keep Watson sidelined and turn to P.J. Walker under center to finish the game. The latter went just 15-of-32 for 178 scoreless yards and one interception, but a late drive helped lead the Browns to victory.
“I want to go out there and try to help the team as much as possible,” Watson said when asked about the move to keep him on the bench after his brief return to the lineup, via NFL.com’s Michael Baca. “Go out there and play and perform and compete. The decision was best for the team. They felt that was the best. P.J. did a great job of finishing the game.”
Watson added that more testing will take place on Monday, with the hope being that no new damage to his throwing shoulder will have been done. As of now, though, Stefanski is confident he will be able to return to QB1 duties in Week 8 against the Seahawks. If that doesn’t turn out to be the case, Cleveland will again have Walker and fifth-round rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson in place as options at the position.
Today’s game moved the Browns to 4-2 largely on the strength of their elite defense. Watson’s availability will go a long way in determining their potential on offense, though, so it will be interesting to see what is revealed in the coming days once more is known about his status. Given the team’s cautious approach, though, it should be expected at this point that he will be able to suit up in Week 8.