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Deshaun Watson expected to start for Cleveland Browns when eligible to return, general manager says

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CNN
 — 

Deshaun Watson is expected to start for the Cleveland Browns in the first game he is eligible to return from suspension, team general manager Andrew Berry said on Wednesday.

Watson is eligible to return on December 4 against his former team, the Houston Texans on the road.

The 27-year-old Watson returned to the team’s training facility on October 10 and has been able to participate in limited activities.

Berry told reporters that it’s been “great” having Watson back in the building.

“He’s stayed in great shape,” said Berry. “He’s been a part of the meetings. He’s done everything and more that’s been asked of him.

“We’ll be excited to have him when he can continue to ramp up football activities and get back on the practice field.”

Watson is eligible to start practicing full-time with the team on November 14.

In August, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to suspend Watson for 11 regular season games without pay and fined him $5 million after he was accused of sexual misconduct by more than two dozen women.

Watson has previously settled all but one of the sexual misconduct civil lawsuits against him.

He has denied wrongdoing in those cases, and two grand juries have separately declined to indict him on criminal charges.

The three-time Pro Bowler has not played in a regular season game since 2020, sitting out all of the last season because of a trade demand from his former team the Texans as well as the investigations into these allegations.

Asked if Watson would be able to shake off any rust after approximately two years of not playing, Berry expressed confidence in the former Heisman Trophy candidate.

“Look, we spent a lot of time with Deshaun in the spring and in camp and banked a lot of good reps during the time,” Berry said.

“That being said, our approach isn’t to really any quarterback but certainly with the time that Deshaun has had off to expect him to shoulder everything.

“That is not necessarily how the team is designed or put together. I don’t know that would be a fair ask for any quarterback.

“In a couple of weeks, we will be in that world where we are getting him ready to play, and we will handle it appropriately.”

In October, a new civil suit was filed against Watson but the NFL said his status remains unchanged.

Berry was asked about the new civil suit but declined to comment.

“We will obviously let Deshaun’s legal team speak for that,” Berry added.

The Browns are 3-5 heading into the team’s bye week.

Berry was extremely complimentary of Jacoby Brissett, who has been starting for the team in place of Watson this season.

“Jacoby has been everything that we had hoped when we signed him,” Berry said.

“I think that he has given us an opportunity and more to win the game in every one of his starts with maybe save the exception of one.

“He has been an excellent addition to our organization, and we couldn’t be happier with what he has provided the team so far.”

Brissett has thrown for 1,862 yards along with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in eight starts this season.

The Browns next scheduled game is on November 13 against the Dolphins in Miami.

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