Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is expected to start Friday’s preseason game against the Jaguars.
The team made the announcement Wednesday just before boarding a flight to Jacksonville, Florida.
Watson and the Browns are waiting to see if he will be suspended longer than the six-game suspension he was given for violating the personal conduct policy by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson last week.
On August 3, the NFL appealed Robinson’s decision, asking for a harsher sentence for Watson. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal.
On Tuesday, Goodell told reporters the league was seeking a suspension for the season because the quarterback’s actions were “flagrant” and “predatory behavior,” as Robinson noted in his 16-page report. When announcing the six-game suspension, Robinson found that Watson had committed sexual assault (as defined by the NFL), conduct that poses a danger to the safety and well-being of another person, and conduct that compromises or endangers the integrity of the NFL.
Goodell said he doesn’t know when Harvey will issue a ruling, although the collective agreement calls for the appeals process to be “expedited.”
Watson has been charged with sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior during massage sessions in civil lawsuits brought by 25 women. The meetings alleged in the lawsuits took place from March 2020 to March 2021, when Watson was a member of the Houston Texans.
One of the 25 lawsuits was dropped after a judge ruled in April 2021 that the plaintiffs should amend their motions to release their names. In June, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits he faced. He agreed Monday to settle three of the other four, according to Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women suing Watson.
At this point in training camp, Watson continued to get the overwhelming majority of reps with the first team in practice ahead of backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Head coach Kevin Stefanski didn’t say when Brissett might get more first-team reps, saying only the Browns have a plan.
“I’m confident in our plan,” Stefanski said. Obviously, we will adjust according to the information. I’m comfortable with what Jacoby has done so far with his rehearsals. He had a lot. He had some with the first team and others with the second, and we will stick to our plan in the absence of any new information. »