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QB Deshaun Watson battles another week of rehab for shoulder injury

Watson will sit Week 8 against the Seahawks

Deshaun Thurs Week 8

OC Alex Van Pelt has been in QB Deshaun Watson's shoes before when it comes to an injury to the throwing arm.

"I had an AC third degree in a preseason game in Denver," Van Pelt said. "I sat out most of the year, and I ended up starting three games at the end of that year, and I was not 100 percent. It's not a comfortable feeling as a thrower to go out there and have to throw a 25-yard comeback, and you know that you don't quite have that arm strength at that time to get it there. So, I can definitely say I've sat in his shoes and it's not a comfortable feeling."

Watson continues to battle through the rotator cuff injury, and he will not play in Sundays' game against the Seahawks in Week 8. He will use this week to focus on rehab. HC Kevin Stefanksi announced the decision on Wednesday, which came after Watson took a hit in the first quarter against the Colts that kept him out for the remainder of the game.

This will be the third game that Watson has missed due to the injury, after he was first hit in Week 3 against the Titans. Watson was ruled out for Week 4 after trying to go through a pregame warmup, and then did not play in Week 6 against the 49ers.

Van Pelt said that early on in the game against the Colts, Watson didn't quite look like himself on his first few passing attempts. Watson's first pass of the game was to RB Jerome Ford that fell short. Then on the Browns next offensive drive, Watson had another incomplete short pass to RB Kareem Hunt before a deep ball intended for WR Marquise Goodwin was intercepted.

With the nature of the quarterback position and Watson being a thrower, Van Pelt said that when a player can't throw at 100 percent, it makes it difficult to play and have success. So, following the hit, all those factors played into the decision to keep him off the field for the remainder of the game. 

"It's not by lack of want, I can tell that," Van Pelt said. "I know he's frustrated. I know he's trying to do everything he can to get back on the field with his teammates, and he showed that last week. He came out and fought through, got back, had some practice time late in the week, and tried to be out there on Sunday. I know he's frustrated."

Watson wasn't sure if starting against the Colts set him back, as he said he wasn't 100 percent heading into the game. He tried to go through the same process of seeing if he could make throws and make plays. Then came the hit.

"I thought I was ready, wasn't ready," Watson said. "And at the time I took a hit, took a blow right to the same area. Once I hit the turf on that last play, I guess that I was laying down, same situation, boom, hit. So, it was a little shock."

Watson was a limited participant last Thursday and then a full participant on Friday before the Colts game. Even though he went through a full workload on Friday, Watson said that he didn't feel perfect during Friday's practice. Watson described Friday's practice as controlled and doesn't provide the same type of environment as in-game reps, where he must react and not think about each throw. However, he felt like he had enough in his throws.

Van Pelt said they were hopeful as a staff after Friday's work heading into Sunday's game. Watson's practice on Friday was better than Thursday, and they thought with the day in between the game, he could potentially feel even better for Week 7. Watson went through his normal pregame routine, and at that time, Van Pelt said they believed it was enough to give him the opportunity to play and start against the Colts.

Now, as the Browns continue through Week 8 and Watson continues his rehab process, Watson said he has thrown some this week. He's following the process and steps the medical team has laid out for him.

"Being a quarterback, you have to throw the ball," Watson said. "I have a blessed ability to be able to run the ball and then stem plays and things like that, but every quarterback don't need that. If it was my left shoulder, then I can still use my right shoulder; but since I can't use my right shoulder and that's my throwing arm, it's hard to direct balls. It's hard to get the ball where I want it to get to past a certain amount with a certain velocity while defenders is running around. So, it's the one thing that I need to play the position at a high level especially."

Through the ups and downs of his injury, Watson said he's been able to stay in a good headspace. He's relied on those close to him, as well as his teammates and the organization as he's continued his rehab. Watson said that his relationship with Stefanski has played an important role, and that their relationship allows them to be on the same page through this process.

"That's a great head coach," Watson said. "That's a great friend. It's not all about trying to force somebody who's not even 50 percent ready to go out there, to go out there. He wants to make sure he gets the best version of me – not just for himself, but for the team. And it would just be very selfish if he just threw me out there just because of my name and my status, and I think that's the biggest thing."