The Cleveland Browns were back at the facility in Berea for the start of offseason workouts on Monday and Deshaun Watson’s presence was felt.
Watson is entering the year with some clarity after a tumultuous first season in Cleveland following a blockbuster trade. A looming suspension lurked over his preseason preparation and just how many games he would play for the Browns was uncertain. It wasn’t until August that Watson settled with the league on an 11-game ban along with a $5 million fine.
With that now behind him, Watson had a spring in his step as he showed up for the first day of the Browns’ voluntary offseason program.
“It’s Day 1 of 2023,” Watson said as he walked into the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. “Magical things happening this upcoming season. It all starts today. Ready to see the fellas. Go Browns.”
Watson has been working out with some of his Browns teammates this offseason in Texas. They’ll have a few more weeks until they get into the finer points of the offense. During the two-week “Phase One” of the offseason program activities are limited to meetings, strength and conditioning, and physical rehabilitation only.
Watson Seeking Bounce Back Year With Browns
Watson was rusty last season when he got on the field, which was expected after almost two years away from the game. He played the final six games for the Browns and the team going 3-3 in his starts. Watson showed glimpses of his prior Pro Bowl form but completed 58.2% of his passes for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions. It left a lot to be desired but the Browns are confident he can turn things around in a more stable environment.
“I think confidence for me comes from seeing it, and I’ve seen him do it,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said in March. “I saw him do it in those games last season. I know it wasn’t perfect. I certainly wasn’t perfect. We weren’t perfect around him and as we all know, it’s not a one-man show. It’s a team game and we didn’t have as much team success as we would’ve liked late in the season there.
“But I’ve seen it from Deshaun in games, I’ve seen it from practice, I’ve seen it in his career, so that’s why I’m confident.”
One of the primary focuses of the early offseason will be building chemistry between Watson and his pass-catchers. And there are a few new faces he’ll have to get used to, including Elijah Moore and Marquise Goodwin.
Other Browns Eager for Start of New Season
Other Browns were also filled with optimism as they gathered officially for the first time, including third-year linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
“We’re back, man,” Owusu-Koramoah said. “We’re back to The Land. 2023. We’re here for it all.”
There were some new faces as well, including outspoken safety Juan Thornhill, who is expected to take over for John Johnson III as the starter at free safety.
The defense will be another primary focus of the offseason program, with new coordinator Jim Schwartz looking to build his attacking scheme.