For the first time since August following his acceptance of an 11-game suspension from the NFL, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson spoke to reporters on Thursday. The 27-year-old began his presser with a statement expressing his excitement to be back on the field, but also said that "with my legal team and my clinical team, there's only football questions that I can address at this time."
Of course, Watson was suspended by the league after the quarterback was sued by 25 women for allegations ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault. Watson has since settled 23 of those cases.
In the past, Watson had said that he would present his side of the story. When asked on Thursday about when he'd put that out there, Watson said: "At this time, I can't address any of that stuff. Who knows what the future holds. Right now, I'm locked in on being the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns."
With his suspension now over, Watson is set to make his debut with Cleveland on Sunday when the Browns go up against his former team, the Houston Texans. The terms of Watson's suspension were a bit unique as he has able to return to the team a few weeks ago and participate in certain sessions, so he isn't exactly coming into this week completely cold as he gears up for his first start.
"My biggest focus was the mental part," Watson said, via SI.com. "Staying locked in on defensive schemes and staying locked in on the scheme we have here. Just following Jacoby [Brissett], asking him questions, preparing like I was the starter that week."
In his absence, the Browns have gone 4-7 on the season but did just pull off an upset over the Buccaneers last Sunday. Given that record, Cleveland is currently on the playoffs and would likely need to win out the rest of the way to even get into the conversation. More realistically, the goal for this final stretch should be for Watson to return to being the quarterback he was before his off-the-field issues, where he was considered to be among the top young signal-callers in the league.
"We'll have to see Sunday honestly. It might take time, but it might not take time. I want to go out there and make plays as much as I possibly can. Two years is a long time, but I've been doing this since I was 6 years old," Watson said.
Watson saw minimal work in the preseason, only appearing in one game for the Browns. In that exhibition, he completed one of his five passes for seven yards. During his last full season in 2020, he completed 70.2% of his passes and led the league with 4,823 passing yards.