In a significant blow to the Cleveland Browns' aspirations this season, star quarterback Deshaun Watson is set to undergo season-ending surgery following a serious shoulder injury. As confirmed by the team on Wednesday, Watson sustained a displaced fracture to the glenoid in his right shoulder, a diagnosis made after an MRI earlier this week revealed the extent of the damage.
The decision for surgery, recommended by team physicians, is pivotal in preventing further complications and structural damage to Watson's shoulder. Consequently, Watson will be placed on injured reserve, with an optimistic outlook for his return in time for the 2024 season kickoff.
This season has been particularly challenging for Watson, who had previously missed four games due to a rotator cuff strain in the same shoulder. His recent return was marked by a stellar performance against the Arizona Cardinals and a crucial role in the Browns' narrow 33-31 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, where he orchestrated a game-winning field goal drive.
Unfortunately, during the first half of this game, Watson incurred the season-ending injury, although he played through the game before reporting shoulder discomfort.
Dual Injuries for Watson
Further medical evaluation revealed not only the shoulder fracture but also a left high ankle sprain suffered in the same game.
This double setback underscores the physical toll of the NFL and the challenges players face in maintaining peak physical condition. Stepping into the breach is backup quarterback PJ Walker. Walker, who has amassed 618 passing yards with one touchdown and five interceptions in five appearances (including two starts) this season, faces the daunting task of filling Watson's shoes.
His immediate challenge is the upcoming critical AFC North clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams, currently tied at 6-3, are vying for dominance in a tightly contested division, closely trailing the first-place Ravens at 7-3.
The Browns' season, already a rollercoaster of highs and lows, now hinges on Walker's ability to lead the team in Watson's absence. As the team regroups and refocuses, the coming weeks will determine their fate in the highly competitive AFC North.