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Deshaun Watson focused on load management as he progresses from shoulder injury

Watson returned for Phase One of the Browns’ offseason program

NEW Watson offseason wkout

Deshaun Watson returned to CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on April 15 as Phase One of the voluntary offseason program began – something he has done throughout his NFL career.

To Watson, it's important for him to be around the team from the beginning to build the chemistry in the locker room from the jump.

"It starts with of course the quarterbacks and if we're in here leading by example every day, putting in extra time, everyone else is going to see us and follow," Watson said. "And so, it has always been very important for me. But also, just me being in the facility and being around the coaches and being around the players, I love doing it. This is what I love to do, this is why I do it, is just to be able to be around football and everyone that's a part of it."

Watson is continuing to progress in his rehab from the right shoulder surgery that ended his 2023 season. He suffered an injury in their win over the Ravens in Week 12, and an MRI revealed a displaced fracture to the glenoid in his shoulder. Since the surgery, Watson has spent time rehabbing his shoulder, following a a customized program that will allow him to ramp up and set him up to return and be fully ready to play.

"I think in this process right now, it's all about load management and not doing too much, even though I probably could," Watson said. "So yeah, we just make sure that we take it day by day and we do exactly what everyone came on months before got on that call and we put the plan together just to make sure we're on the right track and stay on the right track and not getting ahead of ourselves."

As he has followed the steps of the program, Watson said that his shoulder is responding and that he feels confident in their process and the progress he has made. Watson said that he has been able to throw the ball at full speed with no limitations in motion or velocity, has the strength in his throw, and that the mechanics of this throw have not changed.

Watson said that there is not a specific timeline or date of when they believe he will be 100 percent healthy, as they are monitoring how he hits each milestone and how his shoulder responds to each step. However, Watson said that the glenoid has fully healed, and he is working on building his endurance and the management of throwing the football consistently without getting tired.

"I'm doing everything that the doctors have planned out," Watson said. "So, if it's throwing 60 balls, if it's throwing 40 balls a day, it varies. And they have a very strategic program for my shoulder. So, it goes up, down, up, down. For me, I just take it one day at a time."

The Browns can begin OTAs in Phase Three, which is the final four weeks of the program. They can conduct 10 days of organized team activities, where no live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. The Browns' OTS dates are May 21-23, May 28-30, and June 3-6, before the mandatory veteran minicamp set for June 11-13.

Watson said the initial plan is for him to be able to participate in portions of OTAs. They could look to take a more conservative approach this spring due to the nature of the injury, that would allow Watson to be ready for the summer and for training camp. They will continue to monitor Watson's progress over the next few weeks before OTAs begin before there is a final decision about his level of participation.

"They have a very, very good plan," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Deshaun, the medical team of ramping him up and throwing. He's doing all the things he's supposed to be doing when it comes to rehab. So, when we get to those points in OTAs and minicamp, we will go with what's suggested by the medical team, but he's doing a great job."

Through the first two days of the offseason program, the Browns have spent in the classroom and meetings. With a new offensive coordinator in Ken Dorsey and new members of the offensive staff, Watson said it's an opportunity for them to build connections with the new coaching staff as they learn the nuances of the offense.

As they have begun to discuss the offense, Watson believes there are opportunities for the receivers to showcase their skillsets and can allow players to be in different spots. He also feels like he will be able to play free in the offense and showcase a spread offense.

"Time, that's one thing you can't get back is time," Watson said. "And the time, just for me being here face-to-face, being able to hear his voice, hear how he communicates, hear how he runs things, calls things a little bit different than Kevin or AVP did the previous two years is good to be around that, and we can kind of communicate. He can do the same thing for him, get around me and see how I operate, how I learn what's good, what's not good, what we want to change. We've been doing that the first two days. We've had a lot of conversation and a lot of meetings, and it's been very good."

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