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Deshaun Watson feels 'night and day' difference after year in Cleveland: 'I'm ahead of the game'

The Cleveland Browns are banking on Deshaun Watson improving in Year 2 in the system.

Last year at this time, Watson faced uncertainty, with a potential suspension looming after being accused of sexual misconduct during massage sessions by more than 20 women. He was eventually suspended for 11 games for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy.

Watson said on Tuesday that the year in Cleveland has made a big difference.

"Honestly, it's night and day," he told reporters.

By the time the QB's suspension ended, it had been nearly two years since he'd been on the field in an NFL game -- having sat out the entire 2021 season due to the off-field issue and a trade request in Houston.

"Last year, it was just a whirlwind, but it was a good learning lesson for myself and for me to be able to grow," Watson said. "Coming in this year, I'm ahead of the game from where I was previously."

Watson's six games with the Browns weren't pretty. He completed 58.2% of his passes for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns. Cleveland went 3-3 with him under center and scored more than 14 points just twice.

The numbers weren't just ugly. Watson looked predictably rusty and never genuinely comfortable. He played about one half of solid football. The rest was forgettable.

With the Browns handing Watson $230 million fully guaranteed, they are counting on the 27-year-old returning to his early career form, chalking up last year's struggles as a product of all the time missed.

"For Deshaun, to have that season under his belt and those experiences and be able to learn from everything that's happened last year into the past, I think he'll be a better player for it," head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Tuesday. "I think we'll all be better for everything we've been through."

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