With starter Deshaun Watson out for the remainder of the 2023 season, the Cleveland Browns intend to start rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers and not veteran backup P.J. Walker, according to a report by Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report.
Thompson-Robinson, the Browns’ fifth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft out of UCLA, started one game for the Browns in place of Watson already this season. Against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 1, he completed 19 of 37 passes for 121 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions and a 25.3 passer rating as the Browns lost, 28-3.
When Watson’s absence was extended, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski made the switch from Thompson-Robinson to veteran P.J. Walker, who had been on the practice squad.
Walker started in Week 6, leading the Browns to an upset win over the San Francisco 49ers, and then again in Weeks 7 and 8. On the season, he has competed 48 of 98 for 618 yards, one touchdown, five interceptions and a 51.3 passer rating.
Browns general manager Adam Berry declined to name a starter for this week when he spoke to the Cleveland media early on Wednesday. Stefanski is expected to speak later in the day.
A four-year starter at UCLA, Thompson-Robinson greatly improved his draft stock with a strong redshirt senior season in 2022. He completed 266 of 382 for 3,169 yards, 27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 157.4 passer rating.
Thompson-Robinson is a dual threat, running for 645 yards, 5.5 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns in his final college season. He ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash in the pre-draft process.
Watson will have surgery on his right, throwing shoulder and will miss the rest of the season, the Browns announced on Wednesday. He is expected to make a full recovery for 2024.