Sunday, May 28

Deshaun Watson starting vs. Jaguars, but Jacoby Brissett, Kareem Hunt & Myles Garrett among 10 healthy inactives

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Deshaun Watson will start against the Jaguars Friday, seeing his first live action since Jan. 3, 2021, but he won’t have four of his Pro Bowl starters on the field in Amari Cooper, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and Joel Bitonio, who are among 10 healthy inactives.

In addition, backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett will get the night off while Josh Dobbs and possibly Josh Rosen will get reps.

Other healthy starters expected to sit out the game are Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, John Johnson III, Greg Newsome II and linebacker Anthony Walker Jr.

Players not expected to play because of injury are receiver Michael Woods II (hamstring), cornerback Denzel Ward (foot), cornerback Shaun Jolly (groin) and defensive tackle Sheldon Day (back).

It means Watson, who’s expected to play a few series, will have to rely on some of the younger receivers such Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie David Bell to get the job done, as well as backup running back D’Ernest Johnson and Jerome Ford.

It marks Watson’s first game since a 41-38 loss to the Titans when he was with the Texans. Watson threw three touchdowns and one interception that game en route to a 115.9 passer rating. He completed 72% of his passes.

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Watson took the field as he awaits the ruling by Peter C. Harvey on the NFL’s appeal of his six-game suspension. Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed on Tuesday that the NFL is seeking a minimum of a year-long ban for Watson for what he described as “egregious” and “predatory” behavior.

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If Watson is banned for the year, he’ll have to leave the team immediately and not participate in the rest of training camp or preseason games.

He’ll be permitted to apply for reinstatement after the season.

But the NFL and NFL Players Association can still reach a settlement that would get him on the field at some point this season. The Associated Press reported on Thursday night that Watson would be willing to accept an eight-game suspension as well a $5 million fine for multiple violations of the personal conduct policy. Watson has been accused by 30 massage therapists of sexual misconduct, with 25 of them filing civil suits against him. Twenty-three have been settled, one was withdrawn, and one is pending.

The NFL, which conducted a 15-month investigation, based its argument against Watson on what it felt were the four strongest of those cases.

If Watson, who has maintained his innocence throughout the process, is suspended for a specific number of games, he’ll be able to practice with the team and play in preseason games up until the final cuts on Aug. 30.

The Browns are prepared to start Brissett in Watson’s place, but Watson has taken most of the first-team reps in practice. Brissett will get plenty of reps during joint practices against the Eagles Aug. 18-19, and will also have two more preseason games against the Eagles and Bears in which to prepare for the opener Sept. 11 against Carolina.

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