BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns opened training camp Wednesday still awaiting a decision about a possible suspension for Deshaun Watson. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, the team is moving forward getting ready to enter the season with or without Deshaun Watson available to start.
"It doesn’t change regardless of how that situation works itself out, and we’re going to hold ourselves to a higher standard no matter what happens and our defense is going to do what we do," said defensive end Myles Garrett. "Last time I heard, they can’t win if they don’t score points.”
Garrett said before the first practice session that the defense isn't alone in taking the approach of being ready to play in any scenario. The team as a whole is gearing up to put the best product they can on the field while also not letting the pending decision detract from their focus on the field.
“We move as if he will be or won’t be. You don’t really keep it in your mind like that. He’s on the field with us right now, he will be on the field with us this season training and working out. He’s going to be in the weight room and he’s going to be interacting with us. He’s going to be with us for all intents and purposes," Garrett said.
Cornerback Greg Newsome II shared similar sentiments, asserting that any possible suspension doesn't change the team's goal at the end of the day.
"Our expectations are just to go 1-0 every game. We talked about that yesterday. Obviously, every team should be wanting to win a Super Bowl," Newsome said. "If you're not playing the game wanting to win the Super Bowl then why are you playing the game? But our focus is just to go 1-0 every day and you know it starts on the field tomorrow."
Still, the team is hopeful that when a decision is made, it allows Watson to be with them on the field as much of the season as possible while still allowing the system that has NFL and NFLPA jointly appointed disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson to wrap up a hearing and investigation into the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against Watson and recommending the level of discipline if any. There is no timeline for the decision as Robinson takes her time with the case, but with post-hearing briefings submitted and all evidence and testimony completed weeks ago, an announcement is expected any given day.
However, Newsome said the looming announcement of a decision isn't something that Watson has carried with him into camp.
“I feel like when we get in the building, he doesn't carry himself like that anyway. When he gets in this building, he's worried about football and football only, so we're going to worry about football and football only. We'll let legal stuff pan out the way it's supposed to pan out," Newsome said. "We've kind of just got to focus on us getting ready for the season. Obviously, we hope D-Wat's there Week 1, but if he's not, we've got guys that are going to be able to step in and play right away.”
If Watson does receive a suspension, the Browns are confident in quarterback Jacoby Brissett to win them games. Running back Nick Chubb noted that both Watson and Brissett have acclimated to their new team well and have both quickly learned the ins and outs of the offense.
"I feel like Deshaun and Jacoby and all the guys have been here for a long time. They've learned the playbook. They're directing us in the right ways, leading us in the right ways. It feels like they've been here a long time," Chubb said.
Regardless of Watson's availability, the Browns are moving forward and have their eyes set on success, getting to work. on Wednesday as the countdown to the regular season officially kicks off.
"Just keep on moving how they have been, especially the young guys who have been here a bit earlier. Just keep on working out and doing their best. I feel like once we get to the season it will all work itself out," Garrett said.
In the meantime, head coach Kevin Stefanski is planning for every possibility as well.
"We have a plan and as information becomes available, we can adjust that plan," Stefanski said. "I think guys will rotate in there like we always do. If you saw in spring, we rotated Deshaun and Jacoby as well so that really doesn’t change so. The truth is we have to get all of those guys ready to play. That doesn’t mean you divide the reps exactly evenly among four different guys. We’ve got to get all of them ready and we have a plan to use all of them at different times.”
The one thing that Stefanski knows for certain is that Brissett will be the starting quarterback should Watson be suspended.
“No, Jacoby is our backup quarterback. If Deshaun is unavailable, Jacoby is the starter," Stefanski said.
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.