DeShaun Watson trains as the Browns preparing Jacoby Brissett for Bills

BEREA, Ohio– Deshaun Watson trained with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday for the first time since August 30. But with the quarterback sidelined for two more games as part of his 11-game suspension, coach Kevin Stefanski said the team’s priority remains the quarterback’s prep Jacoby Brissett to play.

“This is the next step for [Watson]; It’s good to have him back on the field,” said Stefanski. “But the most important thing right now is to prepare for Buffalo and Jacoby.”

Watson has been allowed to attend team meetings and train at the Browns’ training facility since October 10. But by Wednesday, Watson had left the training facility as the Browns trained, pitched and practiced alone.

Watson also participated in the team’s walkthrough earlier on Wednesday. Stefanski declined to say how many of the first-team snaps Watson would get over the next two weeks of practice, leading to his Week 13 return against the Houston Texans on Dec. 4.

But Brissett said he’s confident he’ll be ready to play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 27, even if he shares practice replays with Watson.

“It’s not my job to balance that. It’s the coach’s job to balance how he splits things up,” said Brissett, who was Cleveland’s starter during Watson’s suspension. “I just have to go out there and prepare, like I always prepare, do my job and then control what I can control.”

Pro Bowl runs back Nick Chub said he didn’t think splitting the practice reps between the two quarterbacks would make it uncomfortable, although he also said the players are “all excited to see Deshaun come out, get some reps and see how he’s doing “.

“You guys already know what kind of quarterback he is,” Browns cornerback Denzel Wart added. “Definitely exciting to bring him back. I’m looking forward to seeing him out there today and getting him out there for the games.”

On August 18, the NFL and NFL Players Association reached an agreement on Watson’s 11-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy by sexually assaulting massage therapists, as defined by the NFL. He was also fined $5 million and had to undergo a mandatory treatment program.

Watson has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and other inappropriate sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Over the summer, Watson agreed to settle 23 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him. A 25th lawsuit was dropped by the plaintiff when the judge ruled that her petition needed to have her name changed. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him.

On October 13, another woman filed a lawsuit against Watson, saying he forced her to perform oral sex during a massage session in 2020. Two weeks later, Watson’s attorneys filed a series of court filings in evidence to refute the allegation.

Two grand juries in Texas declined to enter charges against Watson earlier this year. But Sue L. Robinson, an independent umpire appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, noted that “the NFL had its burden of proving, by overriding the evidence, that Mr. Watson was involved in sexual assault.” . Robinson also concluded in her report that Watson’s behavior was “outrageous” and “predatory”.

Watson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said people were not interested in hearing his side of the story. He has still not spoken publicly since his suspension was announced.

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland also signed Watson to a five-year, guaranteed $230 million contract, the richest contract in NFL history.

Watson has not played in the regular season since 2020 and has been in Houston all of last year while awaiting a trade.

The Browns (3-6) travel to Buffalo this weekend and are trying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Browns just a 4.5% chance of making the postseason.

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