BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Deshaun Watson sprinted onto the field to a light cheer on Saturday during the Cleveland Browns’ first open practice of training camp.
The noticeably muted reaction reflected the uncertainty surrounding Cleveland’s controversial new quarterback.
Watson was the focal point as the Browns practiced before a near-full crowd at their suburban headquarters. He briefly waved while running in the middle of the training grounds, but did not speak with the media.
The 26-year-old quarterback awaits a decision from retired judge Sue L. Robinson. She is seeking to determine whether Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy after he was accused of sexual misconduct by 24 massage therapists. A long suspension is possible.
“I can’t wait for us to play together no matter what week we see him,” Cleveland tight end David Njoku said. “Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.” I’m excited. I can not wait.
“But it’s not difficult, we just have to take each day as it is. Whoever we have, we have to do our best and keep working.
Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns after being acquired from Houston in exchange for three first-round picks in March. He was a member of the Texans during all of the alleged incidents.
Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on any of the criminal complaints. He has settled 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him, and the lawyer representing the women said he hopes to bring the other four to trial next spring.
There were no boos directed at Watson in practice, but All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett and running back Nick Chubb were greeted on the field with much louder, extended ovations.
“You can tell by the turnout that people want to do everything for the Browns, but I think the fans are cautious,” said Hans Schneider, 21-year-old season ticket holder and mayor of Wellington, Ohio. “Once a decision is made with Deshaun, there will be clarity.
“I’m very respectful to both sides, but whatever the decision, some people will be happy and others will be unhappy.”
Watson interacted with several dozen young fans after the 80-minute practice, patiently signing autographs and taking pictures on the sidelines. He also gave away his cleats as a prize for playing rock, paper, scissors games.
The lucky winners were Tanner Hall, 10, and Barrett Radel, 9, who wore Chubb and Garrett jerseys. Only a handful of adults sported Watson’s No. 4, but former Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield’s No. 6 was well represented.
“I’m going to keep this in my room with me,” Radel said, beaming as he cradled Watson’s autographed shoe.
The fan interaction evoked warm memories for safety Grant Delpit, Cleveland’s 2020 second-round selection. The New Orleans native attended Saints practices as a pre-teen and received a football autographed by his grandmother.
“I remember going to Saints training camp and it was the coolest thing ever,” Delpit said. “It’s cool to see him come full circle. I’m excited.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions over the past two summers, the Browns have limited access to camp to the public. Delpit is eager to make up for lost time.
“I haven’t really been here with (full access to) the fans before, so we’re gonna have fun, man,” Delpit said. “I will meet children and organize the day of certain children. We’re going to try to please some people here.
NOTES: Players will have their first day off Sunday after the start of camp with four lower intensity practices. “
Garrett’s chiseled 6-foot-4, 272-pound physique remains a popular topic with his teammates. “I don’t know what else could change, it can’t get much bigger,” Delpit said. “He’s not getting any smaller. It’s the same Jurassic Myles. …
WR rookie Isiah Weston (knee) was forced off the field, joining Anthony Schwartz (left knee) and rookie David Bell (foot) with camp injuries at the position.
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