Browns Exhibiting Patience And Calm While Decision On Deshaun Watson Possible Suspension Lingers

Four new Browns QBs stress the coaching staff, but Kevin Stefanski insists the Browns have a plan to get one of them ready to start the regular season. (TheLandOnDemand)

Four new Browns QBs stress the coaching staff, but Kevin Stefanski insists the Browns have a plan to get one of them ready to start the regular season. (TheLandOnDemand)

Browns exhibiting patience and calm while decision on Deshaun Watson possible suspension lingers

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

Takeaways from Day 1 of Browns training camp …

When Deshaun Watson was introduced to the Browns’ fan base on March 25, GM Andrew Berry termed the club’s background research and pursuit of the controversial quarterback a “five-month odyssey.”

Nearly five months later, the odyssey still is not over.

On the first day of Browns training camp, Watson’s disciplinary case has not been concluded by the NFL.

The fate of Watson’s season – and perhaps that of the Browns – rests with disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who has not ruled whether Watson deserves to be suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy amid allegations of sexual misconduct and assault brought by 24 massage therapists.

There is a stronger feeling now that Robinson may be stalling for the league and the NFL players union, representing Watson, to arrive at a settlement to end the case without appeals. The longer the case goes on, some believe, the better the outcome for Watson and the Browns.

Which may explain why the Browns are not outraged that a decision has not been made.

Robinson’s ruling can come at any time. Until then, Watson and the Browns maintain a “business as usual” approach.

Watson was all smiles and seemingly carefree taking first-team reps in a light, abbreviated practice moved indoors because of thunderstorms.

If anyone has the right to express frustration with the slow pace of Watson’s case it is Kevin Stefanski, who must shift toward getting backup QB Jacoby Brissett to start the season if Watson is suspended.

But the coach exuded his usual calm and unperturbed demeanor.

“On Deshaun, I know you guys will ask the question – and I appreciate that,” Stefanski said. “I do not have much to add. I do not have a ton of information for you. We have a plan, and as information becomes available, we can adjust that plan, but short of that, I do not have too much that I can provide.”

In response to questions, Stefanski made the following points:

* Watson and Brissett will get “a ton of reps” in practices. The coach confirmed that “Jacoby is our backup quarterback. If Deshaun is unavailable, Jacoby is the starter.”

*  If Watson is suspended – which would take effect at the start of the season – coaches “may adjust what we are doing” in the practice schedule.

* Brissett would have a full two weeks of practice from the last preseason game to get ready for the season opener Sept. 11 against the Carolina Panthers.

“We have thought that out and have a plan for that, but we will await information to see if we adjust to that,” Stefanski said. “Certainly, whether you are talking about getting Jacoby ready or getting the backup right tackle ready, having those extra days is important.”

* A true competition for the No. 3 job – which becomes No. 2 in the event of a Watson suspension – between Josh Dobbs and newly signed Josh Rosen doesn’t appear to be a front-burner issue for the coaches.

“I think we will let that play out,” Stefanski said. “Josh Rosen just got here so he is learning. Josh Dobbs has done an outstanding job throughout the spring. He had a limited number of reps, but we are evaluating everything. Really pleased with where Josh Dobbs is and then have to see Josh Rosen and the strides he can take over the next couple of weeks. I certainly think Josh Dobbs has a leg up.”

*The challenge of adjusting gameplans if Brissett has to start ahead of Watson does not faze Stefanski and his staff.  

“When it comes to Jacoby, when he is in there, there are certain things that we think he does really, really well and you try to maximize that,” he said. “Deshaun, likewise. Josh Dobbs, does some things really well. That is our job as coaches to identify those things first and then build the schemes around them.”

Browns PUP(PY) Pound

Training camp started with several players on the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list. These are cornerback Denzel Ward (foot), right tackle Jack Conklin (knee), and rookie receiver David Bell (foot). Linebacker Anthony Walker (back) was placed on the non-football injury list.

Ward’s injury occurred in the final minutes of the last minicamp practice in June.

“Denzel is working through it. I am confident in the next couple of weeks he will be out there. He has come along just fine,” Stefanski said.

Bell’s injury occurred “late in the offseason program … I do not know the exact date, it may have been in that minicamp, had something nagging and took a look at it, but we will be okay,” Stefanski said.

Conklin’s recovery from torn patellar surgery is proceeding nicely. Stefanski said he expects Conklin to be cleared to practice in training camp “at some point.”

“He has done a really nice job,” Stefanski said. “I want to highlight Jack. He lived here all spring and all summer. I think he may have had a cot set up somewhere in the building. He has been working so hard. I notice it. His teammates notice it. He is progressing.”

Walker’s back injury occurred over the summer break and is not one “that I am too concerned about,” Stefanski said.

Myles at 99

Myles Garrett was one of four players to receive a league-high 99 rating by the Madden NFL 23 staff. The others were Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Raiders receiver Davonte Adams and 49ers left tackle Trent Williams.

No player has ever achieved a 100 rating on Madden NFL. 

“I mean, it’s nice,” Garrett said. “I love being 99. That’s as good as it gets for now. But I think there’s a step further if I can take it.”

What did Garrett make of earning a higher rating than Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt (96), who led the NFL in sacks last year and earned the league’s defensive player of the year award?

“I’m not sure,” Garrett said. “You have to take that up with the Madden voters, or skill-raters. As far as me and T.J. Watt, I think he’s a great player. I love his game and I appreciate playing against a talent like that every season.”

Brownie bits

YouTube videos of running back Nick Chubb squatting 675 pounds in May and 610 pounds last week caught Garrett’s attention. “I wish I had knees like that,” Garrett said. Garrett said he squatted 650 pounds earlier in the offseason. “I did it once and I regret it,” Garrett said …

Chubb said squatting 600+ pounds in the offseason “is more mental, for me … I like to know where I’m at every year I do that. It’s worked for me thus far and I’m going to continue to do it as long as I can.” He said the squat is the right weightlifting exercise for a running back. “In the whole game of football, I think legs are important,” Chubb said. “For me, just to feel strong, I think that carries a lot mentally and physically for me …

Stefanski shed no light on why the Browns waited until this week to sign quarterback Josh Rosen, who’s been a free agent since March. The Browns signed Rosen after a tryout with former Bengals QB A.J. McCarron. “I do not know the answer to that other than to say that we felt like we should add a fourth quarterback,” Stefanski said. “ [We] brought Josh in for a workout and obviously signed him, but I would not read too much into the timing of it.”