Deshaun Watson shut down for the week as Browns prepare P.J. Walker for Seattle game
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.Takeaways from Browns practice and interviews …
That’s the latest phrase used in the Deshaun Watson shoulder saga, the “day to day” injury now in its fifth week.
In explaining that P.J. Walker would start at quarterback in Seattle on Sunday, coach Kevin Stefanski said, “Deshaun’s going to focus on his rehab. I just feel like with what happened in the game, landing on his shoulder, there’s residual swelling that’s affecting his throwing.”
A second MRI was done on Watson’s shoulder on Monday. Stefanski said, “There’s no structural damage, based on the MRI. There is, like I mentioned, residual swelling. But that’s why it’s just important for him to focus on rehab this week.”
(Those are interesting comments because Watson previously said that an MRI on the original injury had to be delayed until swelling went down.)
Watson left the Indianapolis game on Sunday late in the first quarter when he landed on his back and his head bounced off the Lucas Oil Stadium turf after being shoved by Colts pass rusher Dayo Odeyingbo. Watson was evaluated for a concussion, and cleared. After the game, Stefanski said he pulled Watson and kept him out because of the “big hit” Watson received to the shoulder previously injured in the Tennessee game on September 24.
Video of the incident does not show a “big hit;” rather, a shove to the right shoulder by Odeyingbo while Watson was scrambling to his left.
The original injury was first reported as a contusion to the rotator cuff. It has subsequently been described as a bruise, a strain, and, finally, a micro-tear of one of the four muscles that make up the rotator cuff.
Recent reports said doctors advised Watson that his original injury was a 4- to 6-week injury. If so, then why didn’t the Browns shut him down and put him on short-term injured reserve from the start rather than try to play in the Baltimore and Indianapolis games? Maybe the injury would have been healed by now if Watson had been shut down from the start.
“I would just tell you, as you know, we make decisions based on the information that you have every day,” Stefanski said. “You guys have heard me say, day-to-day, and I think that’s just based on the player, how he’s feeling, the information with the injury, all those things. But you’re just trying to make the best decision you can.”
So if Watson is in the fifth week of a 4- to -6-week injury, should he be expected back next week, or has the timetable been reset as a result of “residual swelling”?
“I’m really just focused on this week,” Stefanski said. He’s trying like crazy. This is not for lack of effort. He’s making every effort he can to be out there. But with the hit he took I just felt like – and with the swelling -- it makes the most sense to focus on rehab this week. And then he’ll be out there as soon as he’s ready.”
As for Watson’s teammates, they continue to say they have his back.
“I told him that we have his back, and that’s my message to him,” linebacker Anthony Walker said. “That’s the whole team’s message to him. That’s Kevin’s message to him. The whole team has his back. This whole building has his back, and he understands that.”
With Jerome Ford (high ankle) and Kareem Hunt (thigh) not practicing, and Pierre Strong handling kickoff reps, newcomers Jordan Wilkins and Nate McCrary were the only running backs to go through position drills on Wednesday. (TheLandOnDemand)
Hunt will be ready
Kareem Hunt was kept out of practice on Wednesday with a thigh injury. With Jerome Ford also out 1-2 weeks with a mild high ankle sprain, the Browns signed two backs previously with the team to their practice squad – Jordan Wilkins and Nate McCrary.
The running back rotation in Seattle probably will feature Hunt, Pierre Strong and Wilkins. If so, Hunt could get his biggest workload since rejoining the team after the season-ending knee injury to Nick Chubb in Game 2.
“Oh, yeah. I’m ready for any challenge, man,” Hunt said. “And that’s what type of person I am, what type of player I am.”
In four games, Hunt’s “touches” – rushing attempts and receptions – have been 7, 5, 15 and 10. He scored a touchdown in the 19-17 win over San Francisco and two touchdowns in the 39-38 triumph in Indianapolis, including the game-winner on fourth down from the 1 with six seconds left.He’s had quite an impact for a team that showed no interest in bringing him back until the Chubb injury. In fact, the Browns traded for Strong on August 27, giving up offensive tackle prospect Tyrone Wheatley Jr. to the Patriots, rather than re-sign Hunt off the street.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about it,” Hunt said. “Like I said about midway through September, if you would ask me, I probably wouldn’t have said I wasn’t coming back or something or I didn’t know or think about that. But it happened, it happened for a reason, I guess. God got a plan for us and this team.”
Big performances in the Colts game earned Myles Garrett AFC defensive player-of-the-week and kicker Dustin Hopkins AFC special teams player-of-the-week. The only other time the Browns had two award-winners from the same game was in 1994 when linebacker Pepper Johnson and returner Eric Metcalf were honored during Week 8 …
Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote on X that the NFL privately admitted the two penalties on cornerback Darrell Baker that paved the way for the Browns’ win shouldn’t have been called. Stefanski was asked if he’s received memos from the league admitting officiating mistakes. “Yes, all the time,” he said. “You know that. They are human. We’ve been on both sides of it. That’s never going to change. You just play the game.” …
Other Browns who didn’t practice because of injury were: Ford (ankle), receiver Marquise Goodwin (back), tight end David Njoku (knee) … Defensive end Alex Wright had a full practice in concussion protocol, which means he should be good to go without further symptoms.