Coach stands by QB Deshaun Watson as Browns’ leader

Oct 22, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) drops back to pass the ball in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski asserted Monday that quarterback Deshaun Watson remains “the leader” of the Browns.

Watson did not return to Sunday’s 39-38 win over the Indianapolis Colts despite being cleared after a concussion check in the first quarter.

Stefanski insisted after the game that he was protecting Watson, who had missed the two previous games with a shoulder injury.

Stefanski repeated that sentiment on Monday.

“I’m always going to be protective of my players, especially at the quarterback position,” Stefanski said. “Just felt like the right thing in that moment was to hold him out of that game.”

Watson completed just 1 of 5 passes for 5 yards with an interception before leaving. He was replaced by P.J. Walker, who guided the Browns (4-2) to a victory for the second straight week.

Stefanski declared after the game that Watson would be back for Sunday’s road game against the Seattle Seahawks (4-2).

“He’s our starter moving forward,” Stefanski said. “He’s our starter in Seattle. I just — it’s always going to be my decision to protect our players.”

Watson said after the game that he accepted Stefanski’s decision to keep him on the bench.

“I want to compete. I’m a competitor,” Watson said. “I want to go out there and try to help the team as much as possible, and go out there and play and perform and compete. But the decision was best for the team and they felt that was the best, and P.J. did a great job of finishing the game.”

Walker was 15-of-32 passing for 178 yards and one interception against the Colts.

Watson, 28, has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 683 yards, four touchdowns and three picks in four starts this season.

–Field Level Media

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