Waiting game: Watson, Browns open camp as NFL ruling looms

BEREA, Ohio — Deshaun Watson is practicing and waiting. He’s had plenty of work at that.

Cleveland’s controversial quarterback gets on the field Wednesday as the Browns opened training camp still not knowing if Watson will be suspended by the NFL for violating its personal conduct policy.

Watson has been accused by more than two dozen massage therapists in Texas of sexual misconduct, and the three-time Pro Bowler faces possible punishment from league disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who has been weighing his case for weeks.

There had been an expectation that Robinson, a retired judge who was jointly appointed by the league and NFL Players Association to handle player penalties, would render her decision before camp, but that didn’t happen.

As her decision looms, the Browns, who are coming off a disappointing 8-9 season, are preparing for a 17-game stretch that will be altered dramatically if the 26-year-old Watson can’t play.

All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett said expectations — for himself and the Browns — will stay intact whether Watson is eligible or not.

“It doesn’t change regardless how that situation works itself out, and we’re going to hold ourselves to a higher standard no matter what happens,” said Garrett, who set a team record with 16 sacks last season. “Our defense is going to do what we do. Last time I heard, they can’t win if they don’t score points.”

Even if he’s suspended, Watson will be allowed to practice with the Browns, and Garrett said his presence should allow the team to build better chemistry than it had a year ago when close losses and receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s messy release played a part in the team not being united.

“We move as if he will be or won’t be (on the field),” Garrett said. “You don’t really keep it in your mind like that. I mean he’s on the field with us right now. He will be on the field with us this season training and working out.

“He’s going to be in the weight room and he’s going to be interacting with us. He’s going to be with us for all intents and purposes.”

The Browns have dealt with uncertainty surrounding Watson almost since trading for him and signing him to a $230 million contract in March.

Second-year cornerback Greg Newsome II said Watson hasn’t let his situation become a distraction or affect his new teammates.

“I feel like when we get in the building, he doesn’t carry himself like that anyway,” Newsome said. “When he gets in this building, he’s worried about and only, so we’re going to worry about football and football only.

“We’ll let legal stuff pan out the way it’s supposed to pan out. We’ve kind of just got to focus on us getting ready for the season. Obviously, we hope D-Wat’s there Week 1, but if he’s not, we’ve got guys that are going to be able to step in and play right away.”

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