The Cleveland Browns' Week 5 bye provided the team a much-needed reset period. It also gave injured starting quarterback Deshaun Watson some time off to get right and hit the ground running in the second month of the season.
However, that appears to be far from the case, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Stefanski said Watson did not participate in the team's first Week 6 practice. The HC addressed the fact that Watson has been cleared by the team's medical staff to play after suffering a shoulder bruise, saying it comes down to being "functionally" ready to suit up.
When asked about Watson's availability for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers, Stefanski was vague about his QB's status.
Well, this is incredibly concerning. It makes it clear that despite more than a week off, Watson isn't at 100%. The fact he couldn't even practice in a limited capacity could hint that he's quite a ways off from being at full strength.
Stefanski also said Watson is "working around the clock" to get back on the field. While that's a nice sentiment, it also indicates whatever this issue is, it's gotta be significant to require that kind of intense rehab.
This suddenly casts serious doubt on Watson being able to take on the 49ers in Week 6. The bye week should've been enough to put this injury behind him if it was on the much less severe side. However, now Cleveland has to worry about throwing out a potentially less-than-100% QB against a ravenous San Francisco pass rush.
If Watson really isn't at 100%, then the Browns simply can't start him, as frustrating as this is. He's the franchise guy after all, so risking him getting further hurt must be avoided at all costs.
Assuming the former Pro Bowler sits, Stefanski will have to choose between rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who didn't look NFL-ready in place of Watson last time out, and practice squad vet P.J Walker.