QB Deshaun Watson returned to practice on Thursday as he works through a strained right rotator cuff injury.
Watson participated in almost all the quarterback drills and was first in the rotation, working alongside P.J. Walker and Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the open period of practice, where they threw a handful of short passes. He also worked through handoff drills and some passing routes. Watson completed a few intermediate passes at the end of the portion of practice open to the media, one to TE David Njoku, another to WR Amari Cooper and one to WR Marquise Goodwin.
Watson continues to take steps forward, and he is still considered day to day as he works through his recovery. HC Kevin Stefanski has not ruled out Watson for Sunday's game as he continues to make progress. Watson was officially listed as a limited participant in practice on Thursday after he did not participate in practice on Wednesday. OC Alex Van Pelt said on Thursday that throwing outside in practice is a part of that process of trying to get Watson ready to play.
"As soon as he feels well enough to be able to make all the throws on the field, that's probably when he'll be ready to go," Van Pelt said of Watson. "I'm not sure when that'll be, but it's part of the process. Yeah, I'd hate to ask anybody to go out there limited, especially when you're a quarterback and that's your living is throwing the ball, so he's got to feel good about it. We have to also have to feel good about it, but I think we're seeing him get better every day."
Watson's last full practice was on Sept. 22 before the Week 3 matchup against the Titans, when he injured his right shoulder in the third quarter on a quarterback keeper. Heading into Week 4, Watson was limited in practices throughout the week, and then ruled out on Sunday morning before the Browns faced the Ravens. Watson did not practice outside during the week leading up to Week 6 against the 49ers and was ruled out on Oct. 13.
He described on Wednesday that he has been dealing with a strain to his rotator cuff that also has micro tears. It's the first time in his career that he has dealt with a strain to his rotator cuff and has been working through the difficulties of throwing the ball, along with the different movement and rotation elements associated.
Van Pelt said that Watson has handled the uncertainty of the injury and his return well. From the mental aspect of the game, Watson has approached it as if he is going to start each week to full immerse in the game plan.
"I think he's really taking a day at a time, not looking too far ahead and just trying to get better and through his rehab process each day," Van Pelt said of Watson. "He's been great in the room, very positive last week with P.J. as a starter. So, he's doing all the right things, but I know it's tough for him. He wants to be out there worse than anybody."
Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Indianapolis Colts
Yet, Cooper said that if Watson can play in Sunday's game against the Colts, it would provide them a "huge boost."
"Deshaun is our guy," Cooper said. "At the end of the day, we all know who Deshaun is. We've seen all the plays that he's been able to make throughout his career. Just like any other team, you're confident when you're starting guy is in the lineup 100 percent, so it'll be a huge boost."