Deshaun Watson ruled out for Week 6 vs. 49ers, P.J. Walker to start for Browns

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CLEVELAND, OHIO - OCTOBER 01: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 01, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is out for a second straight game due to a shoulder injury, despite a bye week between games.

The former Pro Bowler was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plains Dealer. His status for the game was previously in question after a missed practice Wednesday, with his injury described by Cabot as a rotator cuff contusion.

P.J. Walker will start in Watson’s place.

Watson was a surprise scratch in Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens, as the Browns hadn’t given much indication that his shoulder issue was serious. The Browns went on to lose 28-3 to their AFC North rivals, with rookie backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson struggling heavily against one of the NFL’s best defenses.

It was hoped the Browns’ bye in Week 5 would give Watson enough time to recover, but they will have to wait until at least Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts for his return. The Browns did change one thing during the bye, though.

Will P.J. Walker fare better than Dorian Thompson-Robinson in relief of Deshaun Watson?

After Thompson-Robinson, a fifth-round pick out of UCLA in the 2023 NFL Draft, didn’t look ready for starting duty against the Ravens, Browns head coach Kevin Stafanski announced Wednesday that the 28-year-old Walker would take over the top backup job.

Walker joined Cleveland’s practice squad shortly before the season after being released by the Chicago Bears at the end of training camp. Before that, he parlayed a successful stint in the XFL into three seasons with the Carolina Panthers, where he backed up the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.

In 15 games and seven starts, Walker posted 1,461 passing yards, a 57.5% completion rate, 6.4 yards per attempt, five touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.

Those numbers don’t exactly paint the picture of a Browns savior, especially given their opponent. The Niners are one of two undefeated teams in the NFL, with all but one of their wins by 15-plus points. They’re atop most power rankings, including Yahoo Sports’, and their defense is allowing an NFL-lowest 13.6 points per game.

The Browns’ defense is elite in most stats as well, but few are going to be picking Cleveland for the upset on Sunday. Of course, this is the NFL, so anything can happen.

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