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What Deshaun Watson did, how he looked throwing and what people are saying

BEREA — Deshaun Watson threw short and deep, over the middle and to the sideline. The ball came out effortlessly — if not at maximum power — and he showed no outward signs of discomfort six months after shoulder surgery to repair a fracture in the socket.

Watson continued the day-on, day-off throwing regimen Thursday as the second week of organized team activities concluded. In his first throwing session open to reporters, he threw in individual drills and during installation periods. He skipped some reps and sat out seven-on-seven drills as the Browns take a cautious approach with the season more than three months away.

Not every throw was on time or precisely on target, but none looked labored. His best were a 30-yarder to the outside thrown with touch and ease and a 40-yard go route to receiver Elijah Moore in the back corner of the end zone.

Coach Kevin Stefanski said last week Watson looks “like himself,” and the assessment applied Thursday.

“You see him continue each day, ramping it up a little bit more and more,” coordinator Ken Dorsey said. “He threw the ball down the sideline, a vertical throw today. That’s one I haven’t seen from him a lot because we haven’t pushed him to do that. So that was good to see.

“The more he grows and feels comfortable with it, the more you’ll start seeing those things get ramped up more and more.”

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Watson hasn’t talked to reporters since practice started this month.

He had surgery in November and began throwing in mid-March. Stefanski said last week Watson will get off the every-other-day plan when mandatory minicamp arrives June 11 and continue to increase workload during training camp in July.

Watson, 28, dealt with a rotator cuff strain starting in Week 3 last year, then sustained a fractured glenoid bone — the socket portion of the shoulder joint — that ended his season after Week 10.

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Backup quarterback Jameis Winston, who’s getting more reps due to Watson’s limited schedule, gave a ringing endorsement.

“I’ve seen intentional leadership of him taking mental reps like he is one of the best quarterbacks in this league,” Winston said. “I’ve seen a consistent growth and just him focusing on his shoulder routine, focusing on building that strength back and when he throws it, he spins it.

“So I haven’t seen anything of lack. I’ve just seen him just continue to grow, continue to lead these guys because it’s challenging when you’re not getting the reps. It’s challenging to have a presence when you’re sitting back from afar watching, and he’s done an incredible job just staying locked in, staying focused. I smile when he’s communicating to the receivers in the back, communicating to the offensive lines, talking protections because that is football and he’s not missing a beat.”

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Dorsey was in Carolina when quarterback Cam Newton returned from shoulder surgery, so he knows the importance of managing the comeback process, including slowly increasing the volume, power and distance of the throws.

“So I think where he’s at right now is kind of in that process, and as he gets more and more comfortable, and part of that’s just the mental side of things too, that ‘OK, I can start really opening it up more and more because of the confidence in it,’” Dorsey said.

The offensive system has a lot of new elements due to Dorsey’s influence, so when Watson isn’t throwing, he’s watching intently as Winston and Tyler Huntley run plays.

“It’s a really good combination right now of him getting mental reps, him getting some of the quote-unquote live reps,” Dorsey said. “Obviously he’s trying to get all the reps he possibly can from a mental standpoint, but we still want to install the offense and we still want to get everybody else involved up to speed. So that puts a lot on us as coaches and in the quarterback room to make sure we’re maximizing every learning tool possible.”

Winston, the No. 1 pick of the Buccaneers in 2015, has impressed upon Watson to “focus on today” whether he’s throwing or not. Moore has seen the commitment.

“I watch him work his a– off every single day,” Moore said. “That’s all that we could ask. So I think he looks good.”

Winston, who signed as a free agent in March, has been the recipient of the first-team reps available due to Watson’s situation.

“Just extreme level of gratitude that we are able to come out here and compete and just get better as a team,” Winston said. “I thoroughly enjoy just developing relationships with my teammates and obviously getting some reps, so that’s pretty fun.”

He’s making friends and fans inside the building.

“Jameis has done a great job. It’s really encouraging,” Dorsey said. “The most encouraging thing is the ‘All right, if we make a mistake and we go in the room and correct it,’ you see that being corrected the next day.’

“So as a veteran guy who’s played a lot of football and seen a lot of things, it’s not like he’s not open to the coaching and not open to the evolution of his game, and kind of how maybe we do things a little different than what he’s used to. So he’s done a great job from a leadership standpoint, from an execution standpoint, continuing to grow and then taking what we’re talking in there onto the grass.”

Moore called the addition of Winston a “great pickup.”

“He’s super smart,” Moore said. “He loves football and just the way he talks to us day in and day out, so far, just being in OTAs, is from a very detailed standpoint. You can tell he’s played a lot of football, and I’m just excited that he’s here with us, too.”

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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