Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson made his first start in nearly a month Sunday at Indianapolis before leaving in the first quarter with what appeared to be a right arm injury.
Team officials announced he was evaluated for a concussion and cleared, but he did not return to the game, as he avoided doing much with his throwing shoulder.
“I just did not want to put him back out there,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said postgame. “I wanted to protect our franchise quarterback.”
Watson was hit in the chest as he threw a third-down pass against his body. He was hit by Colts defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo and driven hard into the ground, and his head appeared to bounce hard off the turf.
Watson stayed down for several minutes before walking off the field and into the medical tent. He was replaced on the next series by P.J. Walker and then entered the tent a second time between quarters.
“I want to go out there and try to help the team as much as possible. Go out there and play and perform and compete,” Watson after the game. “The decision was best for the team. They felt that was the best. PJ [Walker] did a great job of finishing the game.”
Walker led the Browns to a surprise victory over previously unbeaten San Francisco in Week 6.
Watson was 1-for-5 with 5 yards and one interception before leaving. Stefanski said there’s no doubt he’ll be the starter next week against Seattle. “He’s our starter in Seattle,” Stefanski said. “It will always be my decision to protect our players.”
Watson was making just his fourth appearance of the season after missing two games and the bye week with a strained rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. He hadn’t played since Sept. 24.
On Thursday, Watson returned to practice for the first time since Sept. 29, then was a full participant in Friday’s practice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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