CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Deshaun Watson is scheduled to start Friday night’s preseason opener for the Browns against the Jaguars the team said prior to leaving for Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski plans to play most of the starters Friday night, but some will be held out.
Stefanski planned for his team to spend an extra day on the road for the preseason opener prior to the schedule being announced.
“There are some things that I think that we can get down there and take a look at in Jacksonville, which I think the players will have a nice experience doing” Stefanski said. “It just gives us opportunities to do some team-building exercises, if you will, which anytime that you travel, that is team-building enough. Just being around each other, felt like [Preseason] Week 1 was the right time to do that.”
Watson and the Browns are still awaiting the result of the NFL’s appeal of his six-game suspension being handled by former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey.
At the special owners meetings in Minneapolis, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explained why the NFL is seeking a ban of Watson for at least a full year.
“Because we’ve seen the evidence,” Goodell told reporters. “[Sue L. Robinson] was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence, that there was multiple violations here and they were egregious, and that it was predatory behavior.
“Those were always things we felt was really important for us to address and in a way that’s responsible.”
Although Robinson noted that Watson was a first time offender, Goodell and the NFL do not view Watson’s league policy violations as one instance.
During the disciplinary hearing with Robinson, the league presented allegations from four therapists that alleged sexual misconduct by Watson during therapeutic massage sessions.
Earlier this month Robinson ruled that Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy in three ways – sexual assault as defined by the NFL, endangering another person, and compromising the integrity of the league.
Should Harvey rule before Friday night and the league win an indefinite or full year ban, Watson would not be allowed to play under terms of the league policy. A specific amount of games less than a full season suspension would allow Watson to continue to participate until August 30 when rosters are reduced to 53.