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Deshaun Watson to begin throwing in March in return from shoulder surgery

INDIANAPOLIS — Deshaun Watson’s return from a broken shoulder bone should be filled with milestones. The first big one is days away.

The Browns quarterback is scheduled to begin throwing in March following shoulder surgery Nov. 21, general manager Andrew Berry confirmed Tuesday at the scouting combine.

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The step is a significant one in Watson’s rehab following surgery to repair a broken glenoid bone — the socket portion of the shoulder joint. He was injured Nov. 12 as he led a comeback to beat the Ravens in Baltimore. He finished the game, completing all 14 passes in the second half, but tests revealed the fracture in the throwing shoulder.

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“Deshaun will begin throwing next month,” Berry said. “He’s worked his tail off in terms of his rehab and recovery. He’s in a really good place. We’re excited when the spring hits and we can get him back on the field, but he’s making really good progress and we’re really excited to see that continue.”

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Watson had surgery in Los Angeles and has rehabbed there, including recently at UCLA. He’s been vacationing in Italy, and the Browns have said they expect him to be ready to participate in the offseason program in the spring. Berry stopped short of saying Watson would be able to take his normal throwing repetitions.

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“He’s on track,” Berry said. “I’m not going to get too far out in front of my skis, but we’re really pleased and think that he’s going to be just fine.”

Watson sustained a right rotator cuff strain in Week 3 and was limited to six total starts — he left in the first quarter in a win over the Colts — completing 61.4 percent for 1,115 yards, seven touchdowns, four interceptions and an 84.3 passer rating.

His first season with the Browns in 2022 was also cut to six games. He was suspended for the first 11 following more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.

With the exception of a torn anterior cruciate ligament as a rookie with Houston in 2017, Watson, 28, hadn’t missed any time in the NFL due to injury until the shoulder troubles last year. Running is a key element in his game, and Berry was asked if the injuries would cause the Browns to dial back the running attempts, or they’d continue to let him play his game.

“More the latter,” Berry said. “You don’t have to worry us living in our fears … injuries are part of the game.”

Watson’s inability to stay on the field led to the Browns signing veteran Joe Flacco in November. He went 4-1 as the starter, throwing for 13 touchdowns as the Browns made the playoffs for the second time since 2002.

The uncertainty following Watson’s surgery could prompt Berry to have a proven backup to go along with Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round pick last year. The Browns are expected to talk with Flacco’s agent this week, and he could return if he doesn’t get a better opportunity elsewhere and the price is right.

Jacoby Brissett, who started 11 games for the Browns in 2022, is another option.

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“Quarterback will always be a high priority for us,” Berry said. “From one to three, what that room looks like as we get into the summer, that I’m not sure yet. It’ll largely just depend on who’s available and at what cost.”

NOTHING NEW

Running back Nick Chubb’s contract will need to be restructured, as the Browns won’t absorb the scheduled $15.8 million salary cap hit as he comes off two knee surgeries to repair multiple torn ligaments and other damage after a Week 2 hit in a loss to the Steelers. Berry remains committed to making it work with Chubb and referenced his comment from January that “no one in the organization wants to see that carry in Pittsburgh be the last time he carries the ball for the Cleveland Browns.”

“I understand that Nick is a popular discussion point. I meant what I said about him at the end of the season,” Berry said. “Any conversations that we have with him or his reps honestly will stay between us.”

Chubb is unlikely to be ready for the start of training camp in July but is expected to return at some point during the season.

“He’s done a great job,” Berry said of the rehab. “You guys know Nick, he works his tail off. He does everything in his power to make sure that he can recover as quickly as possible.

“It still is very early.”

The run game dipped without Chubb but still finished 11th in the league, averaging 118.6 yards a game.

“Obviously Nick’s one in a million, and maybe he is one in a billion actually,” Berry said. “Obviously when you have a difference-maker like Nick and someone who can create at the level that he can, he can truly elevate that area of the game. But we did have to learn to run without him and we were able to do it effectively enough.”

TALKIN’ TACKLES

Tackles Jack Conklin, Jedrick Wills Jr. and Dawand Jones are expected to be ready for the season after ending 2023 on injured reserve following knee surgeries. Conklin had the most serious injury, a torn ACL in the opener.

The tackles are on different timetables, and Berry said it was too early to say when each would be able to practice.

“All three of them are progressing as appropriate and we do anticipate having them available to us throughout the season,” he said.

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Three proven starters for two spots is unusual and may have to be resolved.

“It’s a good problem to have,” Berry said. “Tackle’s a position we’ll always invest in. It’s just too important, we’re O-line snobs.

“Honestly, my focus is on building the roster and making sure the guys get healthy. We’re six months from playing, so we’ll deal with that.”

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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