NFL

'I can't control what the reaction is going to be', says Watson ahead of first Browns home game

By Sports Desk December 14, 2022

Deshaun Watson is "excited" ahead of his first home game for the Cleveland Browns, but added "I can’t control what the reaction is going to be".

Watson has played two games for the Browns since returning from his 11-game ban for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy for allegedly committing sexual assault.

The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback left the Houston Texans for the Browns in the offseason on a five-year deal worth $230million guaranteed.

Watson did not play in the 2021 season as accusations emerged from more than two dozen women of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct during massage sessions, leading to the NFL-imposed ban and a record $5m fine in August.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's game against AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens, Watson said he is unsure how the fans at FirstEnergy Stadium will welcome him, having been booed in his first game back on the road to the Texans a fortnight ago.

"I am not even sure," he said. "My main objective for this weekend is going out there and just showing this crowd and showing the Cleveland fans and this city that we are going out there to compete, and this season is not over for us.

"I can't control what the reaction is going to be. I am not sure what it is going to be. Like I said, I am excited to go out there, play football and get back in the old school uniforms and the white face masks and things like that and have a little bit of fun and just try to make the Saturday something special for Cleveland."

After a disappointing comeback against the Texans in Week 13, Watson followed up with a slightly improved showing against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, albeit in a 23-10 defeat.

The 27-year-old completed 26 of 42 passes, throwing for 276 yards with one touchdown pass as a 13-yard effort found David Njoku in the third quarter.

Watson agreed that he has more to give, and vowed to improve as the Browns look to improve on their 5-8 record.

"I am not close to where I [want to be] at, and I don't want to be where I was in 2020 – I want to be better," he said. "I have a long way to go. I want to continue to improve. I want to be that player whenever I step on the field that no one can stop us.

"That is my mentality, but we have to continue to go out there and continue to show that and try to do that and not just talk about it but actually prove it on the field. I am nowhere near where I want to be. This team also is nowhere near where we want to be. We have to continue to just keep growing and finish the season strong."

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