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Austin Watkins continues to 'take care of business' with stellar preseason play

Watkins went undrafted in 2021 and hasn’t made an NFL final roster — but he’s made a case to change that this preseason


Austin Watkins has caught the eye of everyone who's tuned into the first three Browns' preseason games for good reason.

Watkins, an undrafted receiver who was in the USFL and CFL a year ago, has performed admirably with 15 catches, 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had his best game Thursday night against the Eagles, catching seven passes for 139 yards with one touchdown.

"I think you saw last night some impressive route running and some of the techniques that he's used," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "You see it right from the practice field, right from the one on ones the other day in Philly, right into the game tape. So I think he's done a nice job running routes. Been very dependable catching the ball as well."

Watkins has created a strong case to crack a spot on the 53-man roster, which will be decided on Aug. 29 following the final preseason game. The Browns boast a crowded receiver room, however, with 12 players vying for spots on the roster.  

Watkins' exceptional preseason has undoubtedly boosted his value, but with another week of training camp practices ahead and one more preseason game left on Aug. 26 in Kansas City, he'll need to continue his impressive run to keep standing out.

 "The tape is your resume," Stefanski said. "So I think for all of our players, you want to go out and be very productive in practice, be very productive in these games. Austin obviously had a big night last night and continues to do a good job for us. 

"All the rest of it, how that sorts out. That's why we have camp. That's why we have another preseason game. But excited about what he's able to do."

Check out the best photos from the Browns game against the Eagles yesterday by the Browns photo team

Watkins wasn't even on a roster the day before the Browns left for West Virginia. In 2021, he joined the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent from UAB. Unfortunately, he broke his foot during the first preseason game and was waived with an injury settlement. Later, in January 2022, he signed a reserve/future contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was waived again, however, in July.

 Watkins opened 2023 with the Birmingham Stallions, who won the USFL in early July. During his time with the Stallions, he scored a touchdown and made 16 catches, accumulating 197 yards.

Now, he's on a fast track toward potentially continuing his career in Cleveland.

 "Everybody's path is a little bit different and we all are kind of growing at a different pace, if you will," Stefanski said. "And where he is now, he's certainly a pro. He takes care of his business. Those spring leagues, those are reps. Those are just great opportunities for guys to get reps in games, reps in practice, really, just to continue to work on their craft."

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