With Deshaun Watson out for the rest of the 2023 season after sustaining a fractured shoulder that will necessitate surgery against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns are making a quarterback change.
On Wednesday, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski revealed that rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11 on Sunday. The UCLA product was demoted to third-string after completing 19 of his 36 ball attempts for 121 yards and three interceptions in a Week 4 defeat to the Ravens, which Watson missed due to a different shoulder ailment.
Watson would be replaced by veteran P.J. Walker in victories over the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts, as well as a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Although Cleveland typically played winning football with Walker at the helm, many felt the Browns won despite, rather than because of, their quarterback play.
While Thompson-Robinson, 24, struggled in his first NFL start, it’s worth mentioning that he only found out he’d be playing against the Ravens hours before kickoff. The two-time second-team All-Pac 12 standout will receive a full week of practice before facing Pittsburgh on Sunday, which Stefanski hopes will make a difference compared to his first start.
Every week you’re trying to just make the best decisions you can for your team,” the 2020 NFL Coach of the Year told reporters. “I want to give him a week where he knows he’s the starter. He gets a full week of preparation.”
Stefanski said when asked why he was certain Thompson-Robinson will perform better against Pittsburgh than he did against Baltimore: “Young players need exposure.” Practice makes perfect. Games can sometimes help you improve.”
Despite Watson’s injury, Cleveland remains in the middle of the AFC postseason race with a 6-3 record. The Browns, on the other side, will face a 6-3 Steelers club that defeated Cleveland 26-22 at Pittsburgh in Week 2.