BERIA, Ohio (AP) — Deshan Watson took to the ground for a light round of cheers at the first open practice of the Cleveland Browns’ training camp on Saturday.
The apparently muted response reflected the uncertainty surrounding Cleveland’s controversial new quarterback.
Watson was the focal point as Brown worked in front of an almost capacity crowd at his suburban headquarters. While running in the middle of the practice ground, he shook hands for a while, but did not speak to the media.
The 26-year-old quarterback is awaiting a decision from retired Judge Sue L. Robinson. She is determining whether Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy after 24 massage therapists accused her of sexual misconduct. A longer suspension is possible.
“I can’t wait to play with us, whatever week we see him,” said Cleveland tight end David Nojoku. “Hopefully, it’s as soon as possible. I’m excited. I can’t wait.”
“But it’s not difficult, we just have to take every day as it is. Whatever we have, we have to do our best and just keep working.”
Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns in March after being acquired from Houston in exchange for three first-round draft picks. He was a member of the Texans during all of the alleged incidents.
Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on any criminal complaint. He has settled 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits filed against him, and the lawyer representing the women has said he expects to take the other four to trial next spring.
There was no boon on Watson’s side in practice, but All-Pro defensive end Miles Garrett and standout running back Nick Chubb were greeted on the field with loud, prolonged ovations.
“You can tell from polling that people want to go all-out for the Browns, but I think fans are being cautious,” said Hans Schneider, 21, a season ticket holder and mayor of Wellington, Ohio. “Once the decision is taken with Deshoun, there will be clarity.
“I have great respect for both sides, but regardless of the decision, some people will be happy and some will be unhappy with it.”
Watson chatted with several dozen young fans after 80 minutes of practice, patiently signing autographs and taking pictures on the sidelines. He also gave his cleats as a reward for playing the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
The lucky winners were 10-year-old Tanner Hall and 9-year-old Barrett Radell, who wore Chub and Garrett jerseys. Only a small number of adults sported Watson’s No. 4, but former Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield’s No. 6 was well represented.
“I’m going to have it with me in my room,” Radell said with a smile, as he taunted Watson’s autographed shoe.
The fan conversation sparked warm memories for the safety of Cleveland second-round selector Grant Delpit in 2020. The New Orleans native attended the Saints’ practice as a pre-teen and was given an autographed football by his grandmother.
“I remember going to the Saints training camp and that was the best thing ever,” Delpit said. “It’s nice to see it go full circle. I’m excited.”
Because of COVID-19 restrictions over the past two summers, Brown has limited access to the camp to the public. Delpit is eager to make up for the time lost.
“I haven’t really been here with (Full Access) fans before, so we’re going to have some fun,” Delpit said. “I am going to visit some kids and make some kids day. We’re going to try to make some people’s day here.”
Note: Sunday will be the players’ first day after starting camp with four low-intensity drills. ,
Garrett’s chiseled 6-foot-4, 272-pound physique remains a popular topic with his teammates. “I don’t know what else can change, it can’t be much bigger,” Delpit said. “He’s not getting younger. He’s the same Jurassic Miles.” ,
Rookie WR Isiah Weston (knee) was taken off the field, joined by Anthony Schwartz (left knee strain) and rookie David Bell (leg) with camp injuries.
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