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Browns' Watson says shoulder rehab on track following season-ending surgery

Deshaun Watson Deshaun Watson - The Canadian Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Deshaun Watson's season ended last month. His comeback from shoulder surgery is well underway.

After spending weeks in Los Angeles rehabbing his surgically repaired right shoulder, Watson returned to Cleveland on Saturday and hosted a Christmas event for 300 kids while his teammates were flying to Houston.

Watson's right arm remains cradled in a sling following the Nov. 21 operation in which his broken glenoid bone was repaired. The 28-year-old made six starts before his second season with the Browns ended prematurely.

“Everything is right on track,” Watson said. “Well, everything is going just how we wanted this past month and the shoulder is feeling really, really good. So just going to continue to work at it one day at a time and take it from there.”

While Watson has been away, the Browns (9-5), who have been hit hard by injuries to key players since the opener, have managed to stay in the AFC playoff race.

With a win on Sunday over the Texans (8-6), they can move closer to just their second postseason appearance since 2002.

Watson said it's been challenging to watch from afar.

“It’s always tough just to be away from teammates and just the game of football,” he said. "You work so hard to be a part of it. But at the same time, injuries happen and you just got to be able to deal with the outcome that comes with it.

"But I’m very supportive, and the guys got to keep rolling because they’re on fire right now.”

Watson got hurt in the first half of a Nov. 12 game at Baltimore. Despite being in pain, he completed all 14 passes after halftime as the Browns rallied to beat the Ravens. Afterward, an MRI revealed the shoulder fracture.

The Browns expect Watson to be ready for the start of next season. In the meantime, he's doing what he's told.

"It’s all in the doctor’s hands,” he said. “Whenever they tell me that I can get out the sling, I’ll be out of it. Until then, I’m just going to follow every rules and every precaution they want me to follow.”

After the surgery, Watson stayed in LA and was able to be around the Browns when they spent a week in Southern California leading into their Dec. 3 game against the Rams. He's looking forward to being back at the facility next week.

“I’m always excited to be around my brothers and my teammates and see those guys work and I’m going to be right there with them and supporting them and just keep pushing forward,” he said.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Friday that he's been in touch with Watson.

“He’s living and dying from LA watching us play," Stefanski said. “But he’s supporting his teammates every day, so will be good to have him back in person.”

Watson has played in only 12 of 34 possible games since signing with the Browns, who acquired him last year in a controversial trade from Houston and signed him to a $230 million fully guaranteed contract.

The three-time Pro Bowler was suspended 11 games by the NFL in 2022 for violating the league's personal conduct policy after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions.

Since Watson went on injured reserve, the Browns have gone 3-2 and are now rolling with their fourth quarterback, 38-year-old Joe Flacco. The former Super Bowl MVP has thrown for 939 yards in three starts since Cleveland signed him as a free agent on Nov. 20.