Watson’s exit came after he had already thrown a foul interception and nearly threw another before a review review overturned the original turnover ruling.
As Watson recalls, perhaps the quarterback and the Browns should have foreseen such an outcome.
“I wouldn’t sit here and say I felt perfect on Friday,” Watson said of his full participation in practice for Week 7. “I was pushing through it because I’m a competitor. I felt I had enough.
“At the same time, you have to realize the reality. The reality in practice is very regulated, especially on Friday. We call it Fast Friday for a reason. The fact that you can’t deposit until you actually go out on Sundays when the shots are flying, you have to be able to react and not think about every throw. And not know where you’re going to throw the ball and how you’re going to throw the ball. The philosophy, the speed, the tempo.”
Essentially, Watson is describing the feeling of rustiness that comes from a vacation and being less than 100 percent healthy. The latter was painful in the first quarter of Week 7 in Indianapolis, where Watson appeared to lack arm strength and was a little overwhelmed by the pace of the game after nearly a month away. Confidence (in one’s own health and ability) could also have been the most important factor missing, and in such an environment, a lack of confidence and self-belief can doom a quarterback.
After that failed outing, the decision was made to hold him out for Week 8, with veteran backup PJ Walker taking his place on Sunday’s lineup against the Seahawks. Neither Watson nor Stefanski would elaborate on whether Watson’s participation in Week 7 could have been more detrimental to his long-term cause, though Stefanski acknowledged Wednesday that Watson is experiencing residual inflammation in his throwing shoulder.
“I’m not sure. I’m not sure if it did or not,” Watson said when asked if last week’s play could have caused a setback. “At the same time, I wasn’t 100 percent last week. So I just try, like I said before, go through the game go through the process to see if I can throw in, play. I thought I was ready ; wasn’t ready. At that time I took a hit, took a hit right in the same area. When I hit the turf in the last game. … Same situation, boom it hit. So was a little shock . So could be. I’m not sure .”
Watson feels the same urge to get back on the field, which he cited as the reason he decided to push for it last weekend.
“Why wouldn’t I want to play?” Watson said. “I’ve been pulling myself together for two years to get back to playing, why wouldn’t I want to play?
It’s Walker’s game Sunday in Seattle, where the 4-2 Browns take on a Seahawks team with the same record, but much more stability under center. Cleveland can hope Watson returns before too long, but at this point it’s really anyone’s guess.
“As soon as possible,” Watson said of when he could play again. “Just need to go through the process again, rehabilitate and see a doctor and try to strengthen it as much as possible and get the pain away.