CLEVELAND (AP)Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Deshaun Watson was cleared by the team’s medical staff to play Sunday with a bruised right shoulder, but the quarterback made the decision following a brief warmup.
There had been some confusion about whether Watson made the call or it was made for him following the Browns’ 28-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Stefanski reiterated Monday that Watson’s shoulder is structurally sound, but the QB felt he couldn’t perform at a winning level.
“He knows his body. He has played through serious pain before, very serious injuries,” Stefanski said on a Zoom call. ”It wasn’t a matter of pain tolerance or anything. He just did not feel like he had his full faculties.”
Cleveland was forced to start rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who struggled in his first NFL start and the Browns (2-2) dropped a division game. A fifth-round pick from UCLA, Thompson-Robinson was overmatched and finished 19 of 36 for 121 yards with three interceptions. He was sacked four times.
The Browns had listed Watson as “questionable” (50% percent chance of playing) on their injury report. The team had remained optimistic he would start, so there seemed to be some surprise when the 28-year-old couldn’t go.
Stefanski revealed Watson was unable to throw a pass at full strength in practice last week. When he took the field about three hours before kickoff, Watson made a few soft tosses and knew he wouldn’t be able to throw with the velocity he needed.
“That was the first time he was going to throw to see ultimately if he felt like he could drive a throw,” Stefanski said.
Watson was not available for comment after the game.
The Browns are on their bye week, which should give Watson time to heal before Cleveland hosts San Francisco on Oct. 15.
Stefanski feels confident the team and Watson are in sync with how the injury is being handled.
“I’m comfortable,” he said. “Obviously, we talked with the doctors, structurally we feel good about it. He’s going to use this week to rest and continue to get treatment. I feel like medically we’re all on the same page.”
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