Browns QB Deshaun Watson throwing full speed after shoulder surgery, timetable for return unknown

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

BEREA, Ohio — Deshaun Watson is pleased with the velocity of his passes. At least there’s one aspect of his recovery from shoulder surgery with some speed.

The Browns quarterback said Tuesday that he’s following a conservative rehab plan set up by his doctor and the team’s training staff as he recovers from major surgery in November that ended his second season in Cleveland after just six games.

Watson, who suffered a fracture to the glenoid bone in his throwing shoulder, said his rehab has gone according to schedule and that there haven’t been any setbacks.

He’s been throwing pain-free and without any issues.

“Everything is fluid motion, no hinging,” Watson said, raising his arm to demonstrate. ”When I’m throwing, everything is fluid and motion is really good. The velocity and the strength is really good.”

But while giving a positive medical report, the 28-year-old Watson didn’t have a timetable for when he’ll be 100% and he expressed some frustration at not being able to do more.

“It can be sooner than later, it can be later than sooner,” he said.

Watson said he isn’t sure if he’ll take part in practices this spring and pushed any decisions about him playing in preseason games this summer off on Browns general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski.

Watson reported to the team’s training facility on Monday for the start of the voluntary offseason program. Per NFL rules, the team is limited to individual workouts and classroom sessions.

He’s been abiding by the advice he’s gotten from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the renowned sports orthopedist who did his surgery and has an extensive background in working with baseball players with injuries similar to Watson’s.

ElAttrache has urged Watson to take it slow, which isn’t always easy for the QB.

“Naturally for myself, I try to do a little bit more,” he said. “But (Browns head trainer) Joe (Sheehan) and those guys are keeping me tamed and making sure that I’m just doing exactly what the program says. If it’s eight reps, then do eight reps. Don’t try to do too much.”

Watson said a decision on whether he will participate in OTAs next month hasn’t been made.

“We got to see how these next couple of weeks go,” Watson said. ”Dr. ElAttrache wants to be a little bit more conservative just because it was a joint. So he wants to really make sure that we’re not doing too much and other experts that was a part of it said the same thing.

“You want to be a little bit more conservative this summer and get ready for training camp, that’s when there’s going to be a time where we can pick that up.”

Watson said ElAttrache was amazed he played as long as he did with the painful injury.

Despite hearing “clicking sounds” in his shoulder, Watson played the second half against Baltimore on Nov. 12 — he completed all 14 passes after halftime in the comeback win — before an MRI following the game revealed the fracture.

Watson said it was possible he broke the bone as early as Sept. 24, when he took a big hit against Tennessee in Week 3. He was in and out of the lineup for several weeks following that game with shoulder issues.

When he finally had surgery, Watson said ElAttrache repaired the fracture and a partial tear of the labrum, which helps stabilize the shoulder.

“So when the glenoid came off the bone, the labrum was the one that was hanging on the bone,” Watson said. “He had to pretty much repair that and put that together. He made sure the labrum was good.”

The Browns signed Watson to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract in 2022 after trading three first-round draft picks and other selections to the Houston Texans for the three-time Pro Bowler.

Watson served an 11-game league suspension in 2022 following sexual abuse and harassment allegations made against him by two dozen massage therapists in Texas.

There has been some frustration, but Watson said he’s grown from his experience.

“I’ve learned how to be patient the last three years,” he said. “It’s honestly just staying focused and on track of what they’re allowing me to do and just taking it one step at a time. And if I can do that and focus on myself to be the better person and be the better teammate and player that I can be through this process, then I think that’s the best thing.”

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