PJ Walker has regained his starting position for the Cleveland Browns. Coach Kevin Stefanski made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing that Walker will be the starting quarterback in Sunday’s game in Seattle, replacing Deshaun Watson. Watson, who did not practice on Wednesday due to an injury suffered in the previous week’s game against Indianapolis, will be focusing on his rehabilitation.
The decision to start Walker comes as no surprise. Watson had recently returned to the lineup after missing two games due to a bruised rotator cuff, but his return was short-lived as he was injured again in the same game. Prior to leaving the game, Watson’s performance was lackluster, displaying no velocity on his passes and lacking confidence. He completed only 1 of 5 passes for five yards and threw an interception (and was fortunate not to have another interception). Instead of risking Watson’s health further, the Browns have opted to give him time to rest and recover.
Stefanski explained, “I just feel like with what happened in the game, landing on his shoulder, there’s residual swelling that’s affecting his throwing. I think it’s the best thing for him to rest this week and focus on the rehab. As I’ve told you guys, I will always make what I think are the best decisions for our football team, for Deshaun, and I feel like this is the best decision for this week.”
Watson initially injured his shoulder in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans. An MRI on his shoulder showed no additional damage, but he is dealing with a strain in his subscapularis muscle, which has caused pain and weakness in his rotator cuff. The recommended treatment for Watson is rest.
In the meantime, PJ Walker will step in as the starting quarterback. The Browns added him to the 53-man roster on Wednesday after using his three practice squad elevation allowances. Walker, a veteran, previously started in the Browns’ Week 6 victory over San Francisco and took over in the win against the Colts. This season, Walker has thrown three interceptions with no touchdowns on 33-of-66 passing, accumulating 370 total passing yards. While the Browns’ offense may lack some upside with Walker under center, he is a reliable veteran who can effectively execute Stefanski’s offensive scheme.