The Houston Texans host the Cleveland Browns in a highly-anticipated and emotional battle on Sunday at NRG Stadium. Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson makes his NFL return against his former team after a 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct. ...
And while today is about football, it's also about something else: The supposed rehabilitation of the controversial star.
There were conditions set by the NFLPA for him to return, including a treatment program for his behavior. It is being reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN that Watson’s treatment has him "progressing well'' and is "helping him.''
At the risk of sounding cynical, we wouldn't blame Watson's critics or his alleged victims for wondering how Schefter can truly verify this ... and whether he'd bother writing it if the truth was that Watson is "not progressing'' and not being "helped.''
As far as football is concerned? Watson's debut for Cleveland comes 700 days since the last time he played in a regular-season game, which he did for the Texans during the 2020 season. After four seasons with the Texans, Watson asked to be traded and eventually moved to the Browns in exchange for a package that included three first-round draft picks. Watson's Browns contract is an unprecedented $230 million fully guaranteed contract, the richest in NFL history.
"We're telling our guys we're gonna see the best version of Deshaun and I think you go into every game that way," Texans Coach Lovie Smith said. "He hasn't played for a long period of time."
The Texans lost their sixth consecutive game during a 30-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday,.dropped them to 1-9-1, further cementing their worst record in the league. At quarterback, Davis Mills has now been benched in favor of Kyle Allen. Allen looks to bounce back vs. the Browns after completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 215 yards, two interceptions, and a touchdown in the Week 12 loss.
Houston will have its hands full with running back Nick Chubb as the Browns rush for 154.4 yards per game, good for fifth in the NFL. Chubb ranks second in the league with 1,039 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Cleveland has struggled to stop teams from rolling up big rushing yards. Can the Texans find success on the ground? Houston is coming off its worst rushing performance, totaling only 36 yards rushing in Week 12.
INJURY UPDATE: Rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. remains sidelined with a strained hamstring that has prevented him from playing the past two games that is expected to sideline him again Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
FLASHBACK: In his final season with Houston, Watson led the league in passing yards (4,823), was third in completion percentage (70.2) and tied for sixth in passing touchdowns (33).
RECORDS: Houston Texans (1-9-1) vs. Cleveland Browns (4-7)
ODDS: The Texans are 7-point underdogs to the Browns.
GAME TIME: Sunday, December 4, 2022, at 12 p.m. CT
LOCATION: NRG Stadium (Houston, Texas)
TV/RADIO: CBS | KHOU11, SPORTS RADIO 610 | 100.3 THE BULL | MEGA 101
THE FINAL WORD: Watson on rust in his NFL return:
"Two years is definitely a long time,” Watson said. "Just like riding a bike. We'll have to see Sunday honestly. It might take time, but it might not take time. I want to go out there and make plays as much as I possibly can. Two years is a long time, but I've been doing this since I was six years old."
Want the latest in breaking and insider news for the Houston Texans? Click Here