The Browns announced they plan to start Deshaun Watson in the preseason opener at Jacksonville on Friday. It’s now up to appeals officer Peter Harvey to determine if that will happen.
The NFL wants an immediate suspension of Watson, and the NFLPA hasn’t ruled out the possibility as both sides wait for a ruling from Harvey. He could make his decision in the next two days and bar Watson from playing in the preseason.
As it stands now, Watson is eligible to practice and play with the team until Aug. 30.
Coach Kevin Stefanski said this week that Watson likely plays one of the three preseason games but didn’t indicate which game. The first one makes sense given Harvey will issue his ruling sooner than later and could make Watson leave the team immediately.
Will that come before Friday’s kickoff?
Watson has not played in a game since Jan. 3, 2021, while with the Texans, who made him inactive for every game last season.
“I wouldn’t say that I see rustiness,” Stefanski said of Watson, via Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “These preseason games will be an opportunity to play when it’s a game setting, the defense can come after you and you are truly in a game. I think that that will really be more when you get closer to game reps than say a practice.”
The Browns leave for Jacksonville today to participate in team-building activities before the game.
“We’re just dealing with today,’’ Stefanski said. “I really don’t know any other way to do it. And I think the team understands that.’’