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Deshaun Watson on entering second season with Browns: 'I'm pretty far ahead of where I was last year' 

The Cleveland Browns are counting on Deshaun Watson returning to Pro Bowl form in Year 2 on the shores of Lake Erie.

Watson played in six games the past two seasons. After sitting out the 2021 campaign, he served an 11-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy for sexual misconduct after two dozen women accused him of inappropriate behavior during massage therapy sessions.

Upon returning to the field late last season, Watson looked like a player who'd been off the gridiron for 700 days. His play was disjointed, processing a tick slow, and the offense never looked entirely comfortable.

The Browns are banking on those issues being in the past.

"I'm pretty far ahead of where I was last year," Watson said Wednesday, via the team's official transcript. "Last year was, as far as football, being on the field, just running a new system, trying to adapt to different teammates, different players, how guys run routes, how Kevin (Stefanski) calls the plays, and just being able to process the game at the speed I know. Being a year in and being able to talk to Kevin and AVP (OC Andy Van Pelt) about what we want to do and being confident about it, it allows me to play a little bit faster when I'm on the field."

Watson conceded last year he was dealing with a lot of rust.

"If you stop doing something for so long, you just naturally lose that confidence because you haven't been playing at that level," Watson said. "So you forget your body and your muscle memory, forget how fast and how to do things, but it never loses it. So whenever I got back on the field last year, I was building that confidence up. Took a break, came back, tried to build it back up. But having this offseason and being full throttle definitely have caught back up with me. Like I said before, I just keep stacking days."

In six games, Watson completed a career-low 58.2 percent of his passes for 1,102 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Browns upgraded their roster, adding receiver Elijah Moore on offense and adding pieces to the defensive front. The biggest upgrade will come with Watson returning to the top-five player he was back in 2020.

If Watson returns to form, the Browns should be AFC contenders. If he continues to struggle, the trade and contract Cleveland gave up could be one of the worst of all-time.

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