Deshaun Watson’s official return from suspension is less than three weeks away but the next step in his reinstatement begins this week.
After being cleared to return to the Cleveland Browns’ facility for treatment, meetings, and workouts in October, Watson can now practice with the team.
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) November 14, 2022
The Browns will hold their first on-field practice this week on Wednesday.
Return Marks an Almost Two-Year Absence
When Watson does make his 2022 debut in Week 13 against his former team, the Houston Texans, it will mark 700 days since his last appearance as a player.
— John (Alpha Male) (@WatsonsBetter) November 10, 2022
The last time Watson played in a game that counted was January 3, 2021 against the Tennessee Titans.
Houston went 4-12 that year while Watson passed for 4,823 yards (tops in the NFL), 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Watson also led the league in 2020 with 8.9 yards per attempt and 12.6 yards per completion.
After the conclusion of the ‘20 season, Watson requested a trade from the Texans but the organization had no intention of trading their star.
As the stalemate between the two sides continued, sexual harassment allegations made against Watson by several massage therapists came to light.
While more allegations surfaced during the 2021 season, the Texans kept Watson sidelined for “non-injury reasons/personal matter.”
Will There Be Anything Left to Salvage?
The optimistic hope for the Browns coming into 2022 was that the team would have a winning record by the time Watson returned from suspension.
Instead, several collapses by the Cleveland defense, missed kicks, questionable coaching, and uninspired play has mired the organization in a 3-6 record.
After a humiliating 39-17 loss to Miami on Sunday, the Browns travel to Buffalo for Week 11 and face Tom Brady and the Bucs at home for Week 12.
The @Browns decided to take the day off and lose badly to the @MiamiDolphins in Miami#burningriversportscast #football #browns #tapinmedia #cleveland #NFL #clevelandbrowns #DawgPound #Miami #dolphins #finsup pic.twitter.com/lXUpe8UJ1M
— Burning River Sportscast (@BurningRiverPod) November 13, 2022
It’s very possible that Watson will suit up on December 4 with the team parked at 3-8.
The remaining schedule is favorable with Watson as the starter, but Cleveland will still play three division games which could go either way.
Playoff Hopes are Fading Fast
No doubt the Browns coaching staff will be eager to insert Watson into the starting lineup.
#Browns HC Kevin Stefanski on how they plan for Deshaun Watson's return to practice this week: "Whatever we do with Deshaun won't take away from Jacoby's preparation."
— 92.3 The Fan (@923TheFan) November 14, 2022
However, the focus for the next two weeks is to continue preparing Jacoby Brissett.
“Whatever we do with Deshaun won’t take away from Jacoby’s preparation,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday morning.
As of Monday, the Browns are tied for 11th in the overall AFC playoff picture.
Dropping the next two games will leave Cleveland playing only for pride and the hope that 2023 will bring a return to the postseason.