Deshaun Watson will told reporters Thursday he’s unsure when he’ll be ready to return, but he also slammed speculation that he doesn’t want to play, suggesting his critics are simply out to cause “controversy and commotion.”on Sunday, with the Browns ruling out the quarterback due to a lingering shoulder injury. Watson
“Why wouldn’t I wanna play?” he said. “I just worked my ass off for two years to get back to playing, so why wouldn’t I wanna play? This is what I’ve been doing since I was 6 years old. So why wouldn’t I wanna play? I see the same thing. I see all the narratives — this, that and the third. 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) why would I do that? None of those national people know me. They don’t talk to me. All that’s speculation. If it ain’t coming from me, then all that other shit is bullshit.”
Speculation about Watson’s desire to return (or lack thereof) has likely stemmed from the ambiguity of his injury, and the Browns’ presentation of it. He first suffered what had been labeled a shoulder strain ahead of Week 4, but his absence in that week’s game was reportedly a surprise even among Browns teammates, per ProFootballTalk. His absence extended through Week 6, even after a Week 5 bye, and then he left early in Cleveland’s Week 7 win following contact to his shoulder.
“I felt during the week that I had the opportunity to play,” Watson explained Thursday. “I just didn’t have the strength to be able to go out there and play a full complete game. … I’m not sure if it did or it didn’t (cause a setback in my recovery). At the same time, I wasn’t 100% last week. … I thought I was ready. Wasn’t ready. … I wanted to go back in, but it’s a team decision.”
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters earlier this week he kept Watson sidelined for much of Week 7’s game to protect the QB. But it’s still unclear when Watson, who’s in the second year of a fully guaranteed $230 million contract, will play again. He repeatedly cited the typical four-to-six-week timeline for rotator-cuff injuries on Thursday, but admitted it could be “longer” for him.
“I mean, all I can really do is control what I can control,” he added. “Right now, it’s just rehabbing and trying to come back as strong as possible as soon as I possibly can. … I’m not sure if its gonna linger or if it’s not. … We’re not in a space where I should be out there.”
In the meantime, the Browns will turn to veteran reserve P.J. Walker for another start against the Seahawks. Originally signed to the practice squad just before the season, he was officially promoted to the 53-man roster ahead of Sunday’s game, and is 2-0 in relief of Watson this year. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson was the first to replace Watson as QB1 this season.