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Browns QB Deshaun Watson practicing after missing 2 games; could face Colts

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson takes part in drills at the NFL football team's practice facility Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson tested his injured right shoulder in practice for the first time in nearly weeks on Thursday, moving him closer to starting this week after he missed two games.

Watson has been dealing with a strained rotator cuff, an injury that has prevented him from throwing with much velocity.

The three-time Pro Bowler couldn’t put any timetable on his return Wednesday, but Watson was back on the field with his teammates for the first time since Sept. 29 as the Browns (3-2) continued to get ready for the Colts (3-3).

As coach Kevin Stefanski and coordinator Alex Van Pelt watched, Watson threw roughly two dozen passes during the portion of practice open to media members. He threw the ball with some zip, but seemed to hold back on deep throws.

Several of Watson’s passes were underthrown.

It’s possible Stefanski could announce Friday whether Watson will play this week. If he can’t go, veteran P.J. Walker will make his second straight start. Walker helped the Browns upset the San Francisco 49ers last week,

Watson has made just nine starts in two seasons with the Browns. He’s been dealing with the injury since taking a big hit to the back of his shoulder on a designed running play on Sept. 24 against Tennessee.

He missed the Oct. 1 game against Baltimore, and following the team’s bye, Watson didn’t practice at all before sitting out against the Niners.

Before practice, Van Pelt said the plan was for Watson to “make some throws” during Thursday’s workout.

Van Pelt was eager to see how Watson looked throwing, and praised the 28-year-old for staying engaged during rehab.

“He’s been great in the room, very positive last week with P.J. as a starter,” Van Pelt said. “So he’s doing all the right things, but I know it’s tough for him. He wants to be out there worse than anybody.”

Watson hasn’t had a chance to build off his best game since coming to Cleveland. In the 27-3 win over the Titans, he completed 27 of 33 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Cleveland has been leaning on its top-ranked defense in recent weeks, but the Browns need to get their offense going and Watson’s return would help.

“It would be a huge boost,” said wide receiver Amari Cooper. “Deshaun is our guy. At the end of the day, we all know who Deshaun is. We’ve seen all the plays that he’s been able to make throughout his career. It’s just like any other team.

“You’re confident when your starting guy is in the lineup 100%, so it’ll be a huge boost.”