QB Deshaun Watson (4.16.24)

Hey, Deshaun, can you take us through kind of the process of the rehab, what they’ve got you doing, you know, specifically throwing wise that kind of maybe, the ramp up process that you’re looking at over the next weeks and months?

“Yeah. So we have a very customized program for my shoulder, you know, with the help of, you know, myself, the training staff, the Browns, Dr. (Neal) ElAttrache out in L.A., Elite Ultra Sport, and, you know, Quincy (Avery), Billy (Voltaire), really, my whole team, Tom, down in Jacksonville. We just put a process that can, you know, ramp up, and that’s just right for, you know, the right timing to come back and be able to be full go. And I think in this process right now, it’s all about load management and not doing too much, even though I probably could. So, yeah, we just make sure that we take it day by day and we do exactly what everyone came on, you know, months before, got on that call, and we put the plan together just to make sure we’re on the right track and stand, you know, staying on the right track and not getting ahead of ourselves.”


How is your shoulder responding to what you have done to this point? How is it feeling? How will you feel?

“I feel really good. Very confident in myself in the process that’s going. My shoulder’s been really well, so just making sure that I don’t do anything extra that’s going to harm it or anything like that. So I think that’s the biggest thing. That’s exactly what Dr. ElAttrache and the guys told me is don’t try to do anything extra and rush back. So just follow the script and the plan, and you’ll be exactly where you want to be even better than before.”


Are you a good patient? Are you following orders to the tee?

“Yeah, I try to do just naturally for myself, I try to do a little bit more, but, you know, Joe (Sheehan) and those guys are keeping me tamed and making sure that I’m just doing exactly what the program say. If it’s eight reps, then do eight reps. Don’t try to do too much afterwards, because, you know, they’re the experts and, you know, I gotta follow their lead. And especially Dr. ElAttrache, the surgeon, who, you know, been doing on shoulders for a very long time, especially a lot of baseball guys. So, you know, my time in LA has been great. Learned a lot from their staff, other players, and other athletes. That’s a part of that. You know, baseball to football to tennis, golf, all types of guys and ladies that was out there in that facility, I was able to talk to and kind of we can feed off each other.”


When are you planning or hoping to be 100% again?

“I’m not sure. I mean, the plan is to come back whenever they feel like, and I feel like we’re on the same page, that we’re ready. So there’s not a timeline or a date that we have that this is when I’m going to be 100%. It’s just kind of how the process. It can be sooner than later, it can be later than sooner. I think it just really depends on how each landmark we hit and how fast we can get it and how my shoulder is reacting.”


So if it gets fluid, it’s unclear to you at this point when you’re going to be back to your normal self and it’s going to hinge on, like you said, whether how your shoulder responds?

“No, for sure. Yeah, I mean, everything that we’re doing is, I’m doing everything that the doctors have planned out. So if it’s throwing 60 balls, if it’s throwing 40 balls a day, if it’s throwing – it varies, you know, and they have a very strategic program for my shoulder, so it goes, you know, up, down, up, down, you know. I guess, you know, for me, I just take it one day at a time because I don’t know the strategy really behind, but I just know that the plan is just going to work out. So I just follow their ideas and their game plan.”


How big is this coming up season for you? The first two, it didn’t go at all like you wanted. So how big is this third season going to be for you? 

“For me, it’s another opportunity for myself to just get on the field. I’m not making it bigger than what it naturally is. If I would have played the full year and we would have won the Super Bowl, it would have been the same idea and vice versa. So for me, it’s just taking it one day at a time, building a relationship that we built and carried over from last year and getting this team exactly where we need to get to and get ready to play each and every week.”


Deshaun, why is it important for you to get back for this first phase of the offseason program?

“Well, for me, it’s always been important. I don’t think my whole career outside of – yeah,  outside of COVID, I mean, I’ve always reported on the first day. So it’s always been important for me to just get around the guys, get with the team, build that chemistry, build that friendship, build that locker room that we had last year. And it starts with, of course, the quarterbacks. And if we’re in here leading by example and every day putting in the extra time, everyone else is going to see us and follow. And so it’s always been very important for me, but also just me being in the facility and being around the coaches and being around the players. I love doing it. This is what I love to do. This is why I do it is just to be able to be around football and everyone. That’s a part of it.”


With Ken Dorsey coming in, how helpful can this offseason program be for that connection with you guys?

“Oh, it’s very good. You know, the time, that’s one thing you can’t get back is time. And the time, like you said, just for me, being here face to face, being able to hear his voice, hear how he communicates, hear how he runs things, calls things a little bit different than Kevin (Stefanski) or AVP (Alex Van Pelt) did the previous two, you know, it’s good to be around that and we can kind of communicate. He can do the same thing for him. You know, get around me and see how I operate, how I learn, what’s good, what’s not good, what we want to change and yeah, we’ve been doing that the first two days. We’ve had a lot of conversations and a lot of meetings and it’s been very good.”


Now that you’re allowed back in the classroom and can talk football, what’s your impression of the tweaks and changes that Dorsey and Coach Stefanski plan to implement offensively?

“Yeah, it’s really good. I mean, a lot of opportunities for the receivers to be able to really showcase their skills. A lot of guys moving around, a lot of guys being able to play different spots and then myself to just be free and not really kind of controlled in a sense. It’s really just gotta go out there and be able to, you know, showcase, spread offense, throw it around, run around and make some plays happen. So that’s very exciting for myself.”


How do you sort of work through the issue of ramping up and not rushing yourself and them not rushing you, but also installing a whole new offense, getting to know a whole new coordinator, getting timing down with Jerry Jeudy, how do you make that all work together?

“It’s part of the plan. It’s actually part of the process. So everything that, you know, I said that we, you know, as a group, collective group from LA to Jacksonville to, when I say Jacksonville, this is Tom. You know, the staff here, Dr. ElAttrache out in LA, Quincy. My QB trainer, Billy, my personal trainer, we all are on the same page. So everything that is in the game plan in the process is aligned to be able to have those checkmarks, those timing, and get with the receivers. Okay, cool, in two weeks, maybe we have the opportunity to throw to the receivers, you know, when we step on the field, just continue to take it. And that’s why I have to take it one day at a time because if I try to rush that process, then that might set us back and might extend, you know, whatever that game plan maybe leads to. So everything is aligned with that as far as the new offense, the timing, with the receivers, with my skillset getting on the field. So I’m doing everything that I can to make sure I follow that.”


Have you been able to let one go yet or are you still too early in the process?

“I mean, I’ve been able to throw. I think it’s still early to really let go. When you say let it go as far as like talking like 50 yards downfield or?


I’m talking full speed.

“Yeah, I’m throwing full speed. Everything is fluid motion. No hinging, and when I say hinging, you know, my release point when I’m throwing it and things like that, everything is fluid and motion is really good. The velocity and the strength is really good. So it’s been well.”


When we get to OTAs and the team gets on the field, do you expect to be able to participate at least in some of those practices?

“That’s the plan. You know, we talked previously about that. I think we got to see how these next couple of weeks go. I know for Dr. ElAttrache, he wants to be a little bit more conservative just because, you know, it is, it was a joint, you know, the glenoid labrum. So he wants to really make sure that we’re not doing too much. And other experts that was a part of it said the same thing. You know, this is an injury that, you know, for spring, you know, you want to be a little bit more conservative and then, you know, this summer and get ready for training camp, that’s when there’s gonna be a time where we can pick that up. So I think it can go either way for that in the next couple of weeks.”


So your throwing mechanics haven’t changed at all?

“No, sir.”


Was the labrum repaired as well as the full glenoid bone?

“No, not the full labrum. So the glenoid, the bone that chipped off in my joint is called, of course, the glenoid, which is attached to the labrum. So when the glenoid came off the bone, the labrum was the one that was hanging the bone. So he had to pretty much repair that and put that together. So he just pretty much made sure the labrum was good. But it wasn’t a full labrum. It was just a partial of the labrum that was connected to the glenoid.”


What was your reaction when changing offensive coordinators was made?

“I mean, it’s part of the business. You know, I kind of heard through the weeds, that there might be a change, but I wasn’t sure. You know, that’s every NFL team, you know, going into it that there might be changes, coaches might be leaving, coaches might get fired. But, you know, me and AVP (Alex Van Pelt) have a great relationship. We built that over the last two years. Went to dinner, talked about vacation, and still talk to this day. So, you know, I think he’s going to do a hell of a job over there in New England (Patriots). And then of course, you know, with (Ken) Dorsey here, he’s going to do a heck of a job for us to be able to try to take this offense to another level. So as far as my reaction, of course, you know, I love AVP (Alex Van Pelt), but, you know, business is part of this and, you know, that’s out of my control.”


Did you think that (Ken) Dorsey’s offense is more adaptable to your strengths?

“I mean, I guess so. You know, I’m still learning (Ken) Dorsey’s offense. You know, I know he had quarterbacks like, you know, Josh Allen, Cam Newton, you know, running his offense. And those are very similar guys to myself. But for me, I just try to, whatever office is getting called, I try to execute as best as I possibly can. So, you know, hopefully, it’ll be able to showcase my skills that I’ve shown before in this league.”


Does it matter who calls the plays?

“No, I don’t.”


Why doesn’t it matter?

“Because they both work together, so they both have the same mindset. They both have the headsets and communicate. So for me, whoever calls the plays is, you know, going to call the plays. We as an offense and as a quarterback, we still got to go execute and go out there and perform.”


Setting the rehab process here aside, and I know that’s tough to do because you’re going through it right now, but just strictly from a football perspective on the field, what do you hope is better for you this coming year?

“I don’t hope for anything. I mean, my expectations are super high and just like everybody else that is a part of this team, a part of this organization, fans, everyone has high expectations, especially for me. And being the quarterback, being the type of player that I am, being the NFL player I am. So, I think the expectations are high. I don’t think that is a secret. So, for me is to go out there and perform very high to lead us to an opportunity to go get the ultimate goal. But first it starts now in the spring building that, leading into a training camp, taking care of our business in the division. And then, you know, we’ll see what happens when we get that opportunity in the big dance and see where we go from there but, you know, that’s a long ways from here. We got to focus on, you know, what’s right now and being president of the moment. But I don’t have any hopes. I know exactly what I’m capable of doing and being. And, you know, we just got to go out there and have the opportunities to do it.”


What’s been tougher through this whole process, the physical dealing with the pain or the patience you have to show to recover fully to get back to where you hope to be?

“If I had a pick, I would say neither, but because the pain hasn’t really been a problem. And now I think that’s one thing that Dr. (Nate) ElAttrache was super surprised about, especially when I first got to him in November, is how did I play in that Baltimore (Ravens) game, really the (Arizona) Cardinals’s game, too, but especially the Baltimore game. He was amazed by that. So, if I can play through that right now, the Glenoid is healed and it’s just building that endurance and the management of just throwing footballs constantly and not getting tired. So, I think that part is good as far as being patient. I mean, I’ve gained and learned how to be patient the last three years. So, for me, that’s not a big part either. I think it’s just honestly just staying focused and on track of what they’re allowing me to do and just taking it one step at a time. And if I can do that and focus on myself to be the better person, be the better teammate and player that I can be through this process, then I think that’s the best thing.”


Deshaun, are you saying that there is some thought that perhaps you suffered the fracture before the Baltimore (Ravens) game, that you maybe had some of the fracture going on in the (Arizona) Cardinals game?

“It’s possible. I’m not sure. He was just amazed how I was able to play those two weeks dealing with the pain, especially for what he’s seen over his years with baseball guys, not really football guys, but baseball guys that kind of dealt with, you know, shoulder injuries.”


Why do they think perhaps now? Because we thought that you fractured the shoulder during the Baltimore game first half and came out and played that amazing second half. But what’s the new information here? Like, why do they think maybe you suffered it earlier and when do they think that you suffered it, and do you remember when you might have suffered it now?

“I don’t really remember. I was just, of course, from the Tennessee (Titans) game, I was dealing with, you know, just shoulder injuries. So I think with him just over his years, just kind of, cause it doesn’t really happen in football with this injury. It’s a lot of baseball guys, so for him, it just goes back to his baseball experience. So that’s why he was just kind of worried, no one knows when it actually happened or when that bone actually came apart. I knew for sure in Baltimore, though, because I heard some clicking sounds and that’s one of the indicators that something is wrong with that joint. But that’s probably a question for Dr. (Nate) ElAttrache and why he pretty much said that. I just know that he was just very amazed at how I finished both of those games.”


So is there a chance it could have happened on that hit in the Titans game? Are you saying that even all the way back to then and the rest of the shoulder problems that you suffered could have been tied to that original hit possibly?

“Possibly. I’m not even sure. Yeah, possibly.”


Can we expect to see you play preseason games?

“I think that’s a Kevin (Stefanski) and AB (Andrew Berry) question.


Doctor (Nate) ElAttrache, is he opposed to it?

“We haven’t even talked about the preseason, honestly, other than training camp and what we’re doing throughout, you know, practice and stuff. But as far as preseason games, I’m not.”


This isn’t a common injury in football especially. Has that been difficult to wrap your head around that there’s not really a comp that you can compare your timeline to or the rehab to or talk to anybody really about that’s gone through something similar?

“Yeah, especially in the football space, it’s definitely different. But like I said, it was a lot of baseball guys, a couple pitchers that I got close to, a guy that played with the (Los Angeles) Dodgers last year, he pitched, he did very similar. The guy that reached out to me last week from Boston (Red Sox), Trevor I think his name, Trevor story, he did the very same thing to me, what he did with his shoulder last week. So, you know, there’s different baseball guys that came through, and I think a volleyball girl, she had the similar injury, labrum, and a couple basketball guys that were out there, too. So, yeah, we all just like I said, we all come in there, we put in the work, but we’re able to communicate because we’re dealing with the same thing, so we help each other out. So I think that was the closest thing.”


On behalf of our community, we want to thank you for opening up a business and you’re employing young folks. I know you did the same thing in Houston when you had the restaurant, and you employed people. Is that something that is just innate within you to give other people an opportunity, or is it something else? But again, thank you for opening up that business in our community.

“Yes, sir. No, thank you. And, yeah, this is something I’ve always done since I was in high school. You know, people gave me opportunities coming from where I come from. I didn’t have much, single parent mom so, you know, that was something that I want to use this opportunity to do the same thing is be able to give opportunities for people to have jobs. And I know this community around here wants and is looking for opportunities like that. So if I can be able to, you know, somehow give back and help Cleveland out, this is definitely where I want to be, and this is what I want to do. So it was very important for me and my team, and we want to continue to do that and build around here, not just in restaurants and in that space, but rec centers and, you know, boys and girls clubs. All things like that is definitely on the list. And, you know, we just wait for the right timing to be able to release that. But we’ve been a part of in the community for that, too.”


As you ease back into things and other guys that are dealing with injuries ease back into things how valuable is this first phase in terms of the time in the classroom and the time that you’re putting into learning this playbook and just really getting into things like that?

“It’s very important. I think the mental side of the game is very important, especially with a new OC (Ken Dorsey). You know, certain things are going to carry over, but it’s going to be a lot of new things. And we got to know how he communicates his offense. He communicates the way that him and Kevin are communicating. So we all can be on the same page. It’s a lot of different moving new moving parts, especially throughout the position groups, you know, the offensive line, who’s very familiar with the past of what they’ve been coached on, and then you have the receivers and running backs. So, as an offense it’s been great, but we’ve seen it on the defensive side last year that when we brought in the new DC (Jim Schwartz), how everything kind of meshed together, and if we can put the time in like they did last year, I think we can do the same thing and take a huge leap.”


There’s sometimes guys have a serious injury and there’s a mental block, right? They sometimes struggle to get back the player that they were. How much of your recovery has been and will be just a mental thing for you, and If that’s been a factor.

“It won’t be. It won’t be.”


I asked Kevin (Stefanski) this about the offense and how it’s going to look now that you’ve had a couple of classroom sessions. Is it going to be noticeably different for folks watching this, or is it that the change is more nuanced and subtle?

“I think we might have to wait and see on that one. Think we might have to wait and see, I can’t give too much information on that one. Yeah. Thank you.”