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Deshaun Watson ‘hurt,’ ‘in disbelief’ after learning broken bone in shoulder will end his season

BEREA — Deshaun Watson paused for nearly 10 seconds after listening to the question. The emotions he had been asked to describe filled his face and delayed the response.

“It’s very tough,” he said Wednesday before halting again. “Hurt about it, but I’m going to make sure I keep my head above water and make sure I stay in touch with all the guys and support them as much as I possibly can.”

Watson will undergo season-ending surgery, likely next week, to repair a fractured bone in his right shoulder caused by a first-quarter hit Sunday. He felt pain throughout the 33-31 come-from-behind victory in Baltimore but completed all 14 passes in the second half and finished the game.

MRIs on Monday and Tuesday and consultations with doctors overruled his desire to play through the displaced fracture of the glenoid bone, the socket portion of the shoulder joint. He’s expected to be ready for the 2024 season.

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“I’m still in disbelief,” Watson said. “I’m still just trying to process all the information that I’ve been getting since last night. It’s tough to try to wrap my head around everything right now.”

The abrupt end to his second season in Cleveland is paired with the frustration of having recently returned from a right rotator cuff strain that sidelined him for nearly four full games. He had also stacked solid performances for the first time with the Browns (6-3).

“I felt like we were turning a corner to really make a run, and I believe we still will with the guys in this locker room,” Watson said. “I just wanted to be physically a part of it on the field with those guys.”

Watson’s debut with the Browns last year was delayed 11 games by a suspension following more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct. He struggled upon his return and at the start of this season, but in the last three games he started and finished he combined to go 66-for-97 (68 percent) for 721 yards, five touchdowns, an interception and a 102.6 rating in wins over the Titans, Cardinals and Ravens.

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He’s started 12 of 26 games with the Browns and will miss eight more to end the regular season.

“It’s very frustrating but, hey, it’s part of life and what I’ve been able to deal with in my 28 years of my life,” Watson said. “It’s just another stone that’s in the way and I have faith in myself and my Lord that I’m going to overcome it. So I’m going to be straight and I’m going to get through it for sure.”

The Browns traded a net of five draft picks, including three first-rounders, to get Watson from the Texans in March 2022 and gave him a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract. Besides a torn anterior cruciate ligament as a rookie in 2017, Watson hadn’t missed a game in the NFL due to injury until Oct. 1 with the rotator cuff strain.

“We feel good about Deshaun,” general manager Andrew Berry said. “We see how talented he is. He’s smart, he’s physically tough, he’s mentally tough. He’s the leader of the team and we’re excited to get him back for 2024.”

Watson tried to persuade the doctors and organization to let him keep playing this season.

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“I pushed very hard for it to the point where all the experts and doctors were the ones that told me that there was no chance,” he said. “The best situation for, I guess, longevity in my career is to be able to get immediate surgery. That’s what all the experts said, so I’ve got to follow their footsteps and go from there.”

His ability to play through the pain of the shoulder and a high ankle sprain vs. the Ravens impressed Berry, coach Kevin Stefanski and teammates.

“One of the things that we’ve learned as we talked to the docs over the past 48 hours is in the infrequent event that this injury occurs with a thrower in their throwing shoulder usually it restricts the mobility,” Berry said. “There’s so much pain that they can’t continue to throw.

“So for Deshaun to play at a really high level against one of the best defenses in the league with this injury, plus the high ankle, it really is an incredible display of physical and mental toughness on his part.”

Watson went 3-for-3 passing for 30 yards on the winning drive and scrambled for 16 yards into Ravens territory to help set up Dustin Hopkins’ 40-yard field goal as time expired.

“I told you after the game he was a warrior and that was without knowing about the shoulder injury. Just that scramble late in the game on a high ankle was incredible,” Stefanski said. “Now the throws that he was able to make, especially the one on second down there to Amari (Cooper), I think about the difference in the game. So incredible feat of toughness.”

Watson’s left foot remained in a walking boot Wednesday but he said he would’ve been able to play through the ankle injury.

“Just kind of describes how much of a dawg he is. He’s a quiet assassin,” receiver Cedric Tillman said. “It’s not like he was on the sideline complaining about his injuries. I didn’t know anything until this morning that he got hurt.”

Berry declined to go into specifics of the recovery timeline, but Watson said he hopes to start throwing in two or three months and plans to train with teammates in the offseason.

“(The injury) may be unusual for a quarterback with a throwing shoulder, but the medical process moving forward is very clear to us,” Berry said. “It’s very clear to Deshaun, it’s very clear to the docs, and we do feel really good about him returning and playing at the level that we’re accustomed to.”

“I’m very confident,” Watson said of playing again at a high level. “I’m very confident in the doctors that’s going to be doing the surgery and the rehab, and I’m very confident in my rehab and my mindset and my determination to get back strong.

“Make sure that I come back even better than before.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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