Watson's preseason debut, as the NFL hears the appeal of his six-game suspension, wasn't great. He went 1-of-5 for 7 yards. He had two passes dropped, which didn't help. But the Browns probably wanted more than 7 yards and no first downs on those drives Watson played. Joshua Dobbs took over as the Jaguars' quarterback to start the second quarter, as Watson's night ended.
Watson's last game action was on Jan. 3, 2021. He sat out all last season with the Houston Texans amid his trade request and off-field issues. He was traded to Cleveland in a controversial move over the offseason. He looked a little rusty on Friday night.
Watson, for the moment, is suspended for the first six games of the regular season. The NFL appealed that ruling and the expectation is Watson's suspension will be extended. The Browns have no idea when their new $230 million quarterback will make his regular-season debut. Before the game, Watson apologized to "all of the women that I have impacted," the first time he has done so.
Watson's suspension doesn't count the preseason, and the NFL hadn't ruled on its appeal before kickoff on Friday. Watson will be eligible to play in the preseason at least until that appeal is finished.
According to Jake Trotter of ESPN, Watson was booed in Jacksonville.
Deshaun Watson booed audibly as he takes his first snaps (even though there are like 10K people here) #Browns
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) August 12, 2022
On his first play Watson rolled out after a play-action pass and threw far over Anthony Schwartz's head. Or it was well short of Donovan Peoples-Jones. The throw was so bad it was tough to tell who he was throwing to. It seemed like a combination of nerves and rust.
Watson's very first throw pic.twitter.com/GQuDiYsu9r
— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) August 12, 2022
Watson's second pass was dropped on a slant by Schwartz, who probably should have caught it though it was low.
The Browns' first two drives stalled. They ran on third-and-10 and punted to end the first drive, then the second drive ended on a lost fumble by running back D'Ernest Johnson.
On the third drive Watson completed a pass, a 7-yarder to tight end David Njoku. Another pass on a scramble was dropped by Schwartz, after Watson did a good job to avoid the rush. Then Watson completely underthrew his target on third down and the Browns punted again. That was the last pass Watson threw in his Browns preseason debut.
Watson's status for Friday's game was uncertain until the day of the game, and there's sure to be another week of drama to come before Cleveland's second preseason game. It's possible that's the only look the Browns get at Watson for a long time. It wasn't the best of first impressions.