CLEVELAND — Wyatt Teller didn’t pause when asked his first impressions of quarterback Deshaun Watson.
“He’s an athletic freak,” the Browns’ right guard said Thursday.
“He’s professional, he works extremely hard, he’s studying, you can tell that he cares about it. I know he wants to win games and I’m thankful to have him in the backfield.”
Teller said he still cares about Baker Mayfield, his quarterback of the previous three seasons who is now on the trade block. But Teller could not hide his enthusiasm over the talents of three-time Pro Bowler Watson, acquired in a March 18 trade with the Houston Texans.
The Browns gave Watson a $230 million guaranteed contract despite him facing 22 civil suits for sexual misconduct during massage appointments. Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on criminal charges but the number of cases has since grown to 24. A league suspension could come soon for violation of its personal conduct policy.
Teller was talking football as the Browns wrapped up mandatory minicamp at FirstEnergy Stadium and headed out for summer break. Their first training camp practice is set for July 27, which is closed to the public.
Asked to expand on the “freak” remark, Teller said, “Have you seen him? He’s long, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s smart.
“When I say athletic freak, he’s going to be slinging that ball with ease. He’s running, he’s got an arm, he’s smart, he’s got fast feet, it’s all got to just start coming together.”
Teller believes Watson will fit the run-heavy scheme featuring Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt as the Browns finished fourth in the league in rushing in 2021 as a team (145.4 yards per game) with Chubb ranking second (1,259 yards). Coach Kevin Stefanski has said he will tailor the offense to Watson’s skills.
“Baker was great at throwing on the move. Moving the pocket was something he excelled at. He could turn his shoulders, he could sling it,” Teller said. “I feel like we’ve always had a marriage of run and pass. That’s been our success. That’s been our scheme.
“Deshaun is perfect for that. Pick your poison. You’re going to put eight in the box and get ran out or put six in the box and try to stop the pass. You’ve got to pick and choose. [He’s] special.”
With Jacoby Brissett signed to a one-year deal to back up Watson, Mayfield sits at home. He was excused from minicamp as they try to unload his $18.858 million guaranteed salary. The Browns will likely have to pick up much of that, reportedly a sticking point with interested teams thus far.
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Teller, who has been in Cleveland since late August 2019, remains in Mayfield’s corner.
“I want to see him have success wherever he goes,” Teller said. “I’ve said this a million times, there’s a business and personal side. The business side can get nasty, but the personal side never changes.
“When I got traded from Buffalo, coach [Sean] McDermott messaged me three weeks later, saying, ‘How ya doing?’ That was the personal side. The business side was he just canned me; I wasn’t good enough to make his team. The personal side was, ‘I still care about you, I still like you and I still want you to have success.’ Even after the Buffalo game that we ended up winning here, he came up to me and shook my hand and said, ‘I’m proud of you.’
“It’s just one of those things. We’re all a brotherhood. Whether you’re the No. 1 man or the 2,700th, we all have to come together with that understanding of there’s a personal side and a business side.”
Teller is one of only five offensive players returning who were essentially full-time starters in 2021, with no certainty that two-time All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin will be ready after rupturing his patellar tendon in Baltimore on Nov. 28. That group also includes left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., left guard Joel Bitonio, Chubb and tight end David Njoku.
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With the Browns coming off an 8-9 season, such a low number doesn’t worry Teller.
“We had, I think, 11 out of 11 starters come back last year and how’d that season end?” Teller said. “Not trying to get morbid here, but I think take everything with a grain of salt. We’ve got to come together, we’ve got to play hard and you’ve got to put your head in front of the defender for your brother, that’s just something we’ve got to do.
“We had all this hype and love and hoo-rah last year and we went below .500. If we can change that, come together, stop listening to the outside noise and just win some games, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Teller echoed Bitonio’s remarks from Wednesday, when Bitonio said, “The NFL is such a turnover league. In good years, you’re still losing like 20% of your roster.”
“There’s going to be a question mark year in and year out,” Teller said. “That’s what made last year so weird that there was no question mark. We knew exactly who our receivers were going to be. We knew exactly who everybody was going to be.
“This year is a little different. We have new guys coming in, guys leaving. We have to transition and grow together.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.