zach bacharContributor I
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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will miss Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, the team announced on Friday.
PJ Walker will start in his place.
Watson has been dealing with a shoulder injury that he suffered in a win over the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 24. It caused him to miss Cleveland’s 28-3 defeat against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.
While there was some hope that he could return after the Browns’ bye week, it appears that he’s still dealing with some lingering discomfort.
Dianna Russini @DMRussiniDespite his shoulder being structurally sound, I’m told Deshaun Watson has worked hard with trainers to get back. It was explained to me by a source, he can’t drive through the ball at a high level to play in a game.
After a 2-1 start to the year, many expected the Browns to finally experience the success on the field that they envisioned when the front office signed Watson to a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract back in 2020.
The former Clemson standout has completed 63.7% of his passes this year for 678 yards, throwing for four touchdowns against two interceptions. He also added 83 yards and another score on the ground.
While still sitting just 0.5 games back of the division lead, Cleveland’s hopes of winning the AFC North will continue to dwindle as long as Watson remains out.
Their schedule is daunting, as five of their next six opponents currently have a winning record.
Walker will suit up in place of Watson after rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson struggled in the first start of his young career. The former fifth-round pick threw for 121 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions against the Ravens.
Walker spent 2022 with the Carolina Panthers, finishing with a 2-3 record in five starts. The 28-year-old averaged 121.8 passing yards per game, recording three touchdowns and three picks.
NFL @NFLPJ WALKER JUST DID THAT. HAIL MARY TO DJ MOORE. pic.twitter.com/dDYwoZhaGG
He’ll be going up against a daunting San Francisco front-seven led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa. The 49ers are allowing 13.6 points per game this season, the best mark in the NFL.
Watson’s next chance to return comes in Week 7, when the Browns travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. Meanwhile, Cleveland will look to pull off an upset win against San Francisco this Sunday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.