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Notes: Kevin Stefanski says medical team will decide if Deshaun Watson’s workload increases over next two weeks

ROCKY RIVER — As the offseason program winds down for the Browns, it remains to be seen how much Deshaun Watson will throw over the final two weeks.

Watson was on a day-on, day-off throwing program for the first two weeks of organized team activities, which conclude this week with practices Tuesday through Thursday. He’s also been held out of seven-on-seven drills as he recovers from shoulder surgery in November.

Joel Bitonio feeling good after rough 2023, taking one-year-at-a-time approach to his career

Coach Kevin Stefanski was asked Monday if Watson will continue on that schedule this week.

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“We’ll see,” Stefanski said at the team’s annual charity golf outing at Westwood Country Club. “I’m really waiting on medical when it comes to that. If they say he’s ready to go, we’ll throw him in there. But until then, we’re trying to keep it by the day. And he’s doing really, really well.”

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Stefanski indicated two weeks ago Watson’s workload would increase for mandatory minicamp June 11-13 but wasn’t as definitive when asked if that’s still the plan. The Browns will break after minicamp before returning for training camp in late July.

“It’s all being talked about with the medical groups and I know you could talk to Deshaun, he wants to be doing everything,” Stefanski said. “But we’ll continue to listen to whatever the doctors tell us.”

Watson hasn’t talked to reporters since April but looked good last week in his first time throwing in front of reporters since the surgery to repair a fractured glenoid bone — the socket portion of the shoulder joint. He appeared to throw effortlessly, including a couple of deep balls.

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“He looks like Deshaun Watson,” Stefanski said. “Doing everything he’s supposed to do. He’s attacked this rehab from Day 1.”

Watson started only six games in each of his first two years with the Browns. If the shoulder fully recovers as expected and he can stay healthy, the Browns have high hopes for 2024.

“When I’ve been around the guys, everybody seems excited,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “He seems like he’s in a good mindset. It’s never been an issue about his work. We saw flashes last year, the second half of Baltimore and other games, and you look at our win-loss record when he’s our quarterback, they’re all good signs.

“All the momentum is good, you got some new weapons for him to throw the ball to, so it’s an exciting time and it’s always about expectations. You got to live up to them, but we’re happy to have him because that means we’re there and hopefully ready to compete.”

THE NEW GUY

Bitonio has a bit of history with new offensive line coach Andy Dickerson, who was hired in the offseason to replace Bill Callahan, who left to work for his son Brian with the Titans. Dickerson was with the Rams when Bitonio was coming out of the University of Nevada in the 2014 draft.

“He came out, we had lunch or dinner, we did some board work,” Bitonio said. “He has a good energy. He brings some passion to the field. I haven’t obviously been on the field with him yet, but so far it’s been good when I’ve been in the meetings and I’ve picked his brain on some things.”

Dickerson worked with center Ethan Pocic during their time with the Seahawks.

THAT’S A KICKER

The Chiefs are considering using a position player to kick off, but the Browns expect to stick with kicker Dustin Hopkins for the role.

The new kickoff rules are designed to promote returns and limit touchbacks. The majority of players from both teams will line up 5 yards apart — the receiving team at its 35 and the kicking team at the 40 — and can’t move until the ball lands or is touched.

Using a safety as a kicker, like Kansas City’s Justin Reid, would provide another defender used to tackling in space, which could be especially handy with the rest of the players bunched. And hangtime on the kick doesn’t matter.

“That ball placement becomes really important because the ball landing at the 10 vs. inside the 5 versus inside the goal line, just in the drills that we’ve done, the closer that ball lands to both the return unit and kickoff unit, there’s an opportunity maybe to gain yards in a kickoff return,” Stefanski said. “If you have a position player that is really good at it, obviously that’s a major bonus for them.

“I feel really good about Dustin, his ability in that phase.”

A GOOD CAUSE

The golf outing is the Cleveland Browns Foundation’s flagship fundraising event and has raised more than $3.4 million in 24 years. The goal is to increase awareness of the foundation’s focus on improving school attendance and combating chronic absenteeism.

“It’s a huge part of what we do,” Stefanski said. “This money goes a long way within different aspects of Northeast Ohio.”

Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, general manager Andrew Berry, the coaching staff and many players were in attendance. The team had meetings and a walkthrough in Berea as part of OTAs before heading to the golf course.

EXTRA POINTS

New offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey called the plays into the huddle during the two OTAs practices open to the media, but Stefanski cautioned against reading into that when it comes to who will call plays during the season. Stefanski has called the plays for all four of his seasons with the Browns and hasn’t announced if he’ll give up the role.

“We rotate at practice,” he said. “I don’t always radio the plays into practice. I never have. We’ve always mixed it up.”

** Running back Nick Chubb, who’s recovering from two knee surgeries, was spotted at the outing riding in a golf cart. Stefanski didn’t have an update on when he’ll be able to practice but said he’s “continuing to do well.”

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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