Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson suffered a shoulder injury in last Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans, rendering him questionable for the Browns' Week 4 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. Given the congested nature of the early AFC North standings, Cleveland has the motivation to get Watson back on the field quickly.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski said he is "hopeful" Watson can go this week, but a new practice update on Friday tossed cold water on the fanbase. Watson is still listed as questionable, but he doesn't appear to be making fast progress.
There will be further updates in the hours and days to come, but Watson only threw one pass in Friday's practice session before meeting with the trainer. If Watson can't go on Sunday, the Browns will turn to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round pick out of UCLA.
Injury update could mean Cleveland Browns start Dorian Thompson-Robinson over Deshaun Watson on Sunday
Thompson-Robinson, already known affectionately by the Browns fandom as DTR, was a source of much joy in the preseason. He's a classic dual-threat QB, capable of uncorking long passes in the pocket or scrambling to the outside for impromptu gains. He also competes his tail off; he obtained borderline legend status with an illegal block in the Browns' preseason win over the Eagles.
Watson has been mostly bad since arriving in Cleveland, especially relative to his five-year, $230 million contract. He doesn't have the same magic he once possessed for the Houston Texans, which is compounded by a deeply concerning track record of alleged abuse off the field. It has been extremely difficult for the Browns fanbase to find any sliver of silver lining about Watson's tenure with the team.
Still, the Browns are 2-1 — largely due to a dominant defense helmed by early DPOY frontrunner Myles Garrett. Cleveland has held two different teams (Cincinnati and Tennessee) to just three points. With that ability to get stops and freeze scoreboards, the Browns can probably survive more mediocre football from Watson.
That said, if the spry DTR gets his shot and makes the most of it, the Browns could have a genuine QB competition on their hands. Watson has not done much to secure his job, other than swindle $230 million from ownership. If the Browns can take a step forward on offense while maintaining their elite defense, suddenly Cleveland starts to feel like a contender.
Rarely do late-round rookie QBs take the reins for a contender, but we have seen Brock Purdy do it. Maybe, just maybe, this week turns into the start of DTR's ascent as the heir apparent to Watson's decrepit crown in Cleveland.