The Cleveland Browns are not sure when Deshaun Watson will be available for a regular season game, but they’re expected to get their first glance at the embattled quarterback in the preseason.
Browns skipper Kevin Stefanski has kept his plans at quarterback mostly under wraps but did reveal that Watson is “likely” to see some time on the field in the preseason.
“It’s likely he will play in one of these games, yes,” Stefanski said during an appearance on 92.3 The Fan.
Stefanski said prior to Tuesday’s practice that he hadn’t shared with the team the plan for preseason reps but expressed confidence in what they have planned.
“I haven’t shared it with the team yet,” Stefanski said. “So I’ll wait on announcing that. We have a framework on how we’re going to handle this preseason. As you know, you always reserve the right to change your mind based on how practice goes and those types of things. We’re pretty confident in the plan we have.”
Roger Goodell Wants Lengthy Suspension for Watson
Watson will make the trip to Jacksonville with uncertainty looming about his future. The NFL appealed the six-game suspension he was handed by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson earlier in the month. The league is seeking a harsher penalty for the Browns QB, which could include a year ban and a hefty fine.
“We’ve seen the evidence, [Sue L. Robinson] was very clear about the evidence, she reinforced the evidence,” commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on August 9. “There were multiple violations that were egregious, and it was predatory behavior.”
Peter C. Harvey is hearing the appeal for Watson’s violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. There’s no timeline on the decision, although it’s being handled on an “expedited” timeline. There’s a chance the updated punishment for Watson comes prior to Friday’s preseason tilt against Jacksonville, which would likely shift the team’s plans.
Browns Trying to Strike Balance Between Watson, Brissett
Watson has not played in a game in over a year and the Browns would like him to see some live action with his new teammates. However, they also have to prepare veteran Jacoby Brissett for starting action, seeing as he will start at least the first six games.
“I am confident in our plan. Obviously, like I have told you guys, we will adjust based on information,” Stefanski said. “I am comfortable in what Jacoby has done to date with his reps. He has gotten a lot of them. He has gotten some with the ones and some with the twos, and we will stick to our plan absent any new information.”
If Watson and Brissett are on the sideline, the attention at the quarterback position will turn to Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen, who are battling for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart. Dobbs was ahead of Rosen on the first unofficial depth chart that was released this week.
After heading to Jacksonville, the Browns will face the Eagles and Bears to wrap up their preseason schedule. Cleveland opens the season on September 11 against the Panthers on the road.