Leading up to the Cleveland Browns Week 4 contest with the Baltimore Ravens, Deshaun Watson was adamant he would suit up and play despite a shoulder injury. However, when Sunday rolled around the team announced Dorian Thompson-Robinson would make his first career NFL start.
Cleveland wound up losing the game in horrific fashion and afterward, it appeared head coach Kevin Stefanski was frustrated about the situation. Not only did he admit it was Watson's decision to sit but he then praised David Njoku for playing despite suffering burns to his hands and face over the weekend.
Now, it appears it's not just Stefanski who was bothered. According to Jason Lloyd of the athletic, there's also frustration from some of his teammates over the decision.
To be clear, none of them blame Watson for making sure he was 100 percent healthy before taking the field. No one wants a repeat situation from 2021 when Baker Mayfield continued to play with a torn shoulder labrum that clearly hindered his throwing motion.
Instead, they were less than thrilled that Watson spent the week assuring everyone he would play — before opting out at the 11th hour despite being medically cleared.
Could this be a problem long-term for Deshaun Watson and the Browns?
Anytime there are rumors of friction in a locker room, there's potential for things to go in the wrong direction. Cleveland unfortunately knows this as well as any team in the league. That's why it's fair to ask if this problem could persist throughout the season.
The answer to that is — it depends.
Whether or not this issue festers and causes a problem down the road will depend solely on how the team plays going forward. It's cliché but it's true that winning cures everything. So if the Browns can start to reel off some wins, no one will remember a Week 4 loss — no matter how ugly.
If they don't start winning...it could be another long season and several issues might be exaggerated.