With the Cleveland Browns sitting at 2-3 through five games in the 2022 NFL season, the story is that the team could/should be 4-1 or 5-0. Instead, a horrific meltdown versus the New York Jets, a couple of failures against the Atlanta Falcons, and an interception or missed field goal against the Los Angeles Chargers led to three losses.
Now the story of the offseason returns front and center for the team.
QB Deshaun Watson is now eligible to return to Berea for the first time since his 11-game suspension went into effect. Over those weeks, Watson has been working out with his quarterback coach, Quincy Avery, primarily in Ohio.
Upon return, Watson is not eligible to practice with the team or even attend practice until mid-November. For now, the goal is to make sure he is in the best physical health for his return to the field while meeting with coaches to prepare for that return.
According to Ian Rapoport, Watson’s primary interaction with his teammates will come in the locker room and when he is allowed to “eat meals in the cafeteria.”
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to new rules for players returning from less than a full-year suspension. By returning halfway through the suspension, players can be protected from ramping up to quickly. In the past, Watson would have been permitted back to the facility on a Monday with the possibility of playing that following Sunday. Now, he can be as prepared to return as possible.
It will be interesting when the quarterback is made available to the media and what he will be willing to discuss. As part of his settlement with the league, Watson was required to under a clinical evaluation, mandatory counseling and pay a $5 million fine. Those requirements must be fulfilled for his suspension to be lifted.
Cleveland is now in a unique situation, one of their own doing, of having to prepare for the next six games with Jacoby Brissett while preparing behind the scenes with Watson for his return from suspension. Watson then can return to practice on November 14th, two weeks before his suspension is scheduled to end.
What do you think of the new suspension protocols that allows a player back halfway through the suspension to prepare for when the suspension is done?