After a solid win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, the Cleveland Browns appeared to be on the right track. Then, they were hit with some tough news as Deshaun Watson had to miss Week 4 with a shoulder injury.
Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson got the start in his absence and struggled mightily. He was far from the sole reason they lost but it was also fair to say his performance left us all wanting Watson back in the lineup. And with a bye in Week 5, there was hope he would be fully healed and ready to face the San Francisco 49ers.
Unfortunately, that hope has faded some since Watson wasn't on the practice field Monday. Making matters worse, head coach Kevin Stefanski made a concerning statement that Watson will be on the field as as as he's "functionally ready."
That statement is wildly concerning and has many asking if perhaps Watson is going to miss even more time than we expected. At this point, it feels as though Watson is out for at least Week 6 and only time will tell if it extends beyond this.
If Deshaun Watson remains out, will P.J. Walker get a shot?
The next question is what will the Browns do if Watson is out for more than a week. They clearly trusted Thompson-Robinson, which is why they felt comfortable trading Josh Dobbs to the Arizona Cardinals. But if he remains the starter and struggles against the 49ers, do they look to P.J. Walker?
Walker was undrafted out of Temple in 2017 and spent three years on the Indianapolis Colts practice squad to begin his career. He joined the Carolina Panthers in 2020 and was there for another three seasons and even started seven games.
In those starts, the Panthers went 4-3 while Walker threw for 1,461 yards with five touchdowns and 11 picks. This past season, he was 2-3 after taking over for Baker Mayfield and threw for 731 yards with three touchdowns and three picks.
There's no perfect answer and surely the Browns would like to see DTR capitalize on his athleticism — if they have to be without their star quarterback that is. But he needs to show more than he did in Week 4 in order for them to keep from seeing what Walker can do in this offense.