With Deshaun Watson returning to practice this week, getting Jacoby Brissett ready for the Bills is still the No. 1 priority

CLEVELAND, Ohio — With Deshaun Watson returning to practice this week, coach Kevin Stefanski stressed that they won’t give short shrift to Jacoby Brissett as the Browns gear up for their trip to Buffalo.

“That’s the next step for Deshaun is getting out there and being able to practice,” Stefanski said Monday on a video conference. “We as coaches can be out there with him now and work with him, which we haven’t been able to do. We will have a plan for him to start getting ready. To your point, Jacoby is the No. 1 priority in getting him ready to play in this game. Whatever we do with Deshaun won’t take away from Jacoby’s preparation.”

As defensive end Myles Garrett noted after Sunday’s 39-17 loss to the Dolphins that dropped the Browns to 3-6, these next two games against the Bills and Bucs are vitally important if they want to be in the playoff hunt when Watson returns to the field Dec. 4 in Houston.

“We have to win the next two,” Garrett said.

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With that in mind, the Browns must give most of the first-team reps to Brissett, who’s thrown only eight touchdown passes against five interceptions this season en route to an 87.1 rating. If the Bills and their stout defense stop the Browns’ run the way the Dolphins did, Brissett will need to throw some TD passes to keep pace with Josh Allen, who is second in the NFL with 20 TD passes this season. Brissett’s eight are tied for 23rd in the NFL.

“I think everybody kind of understands the situation that we’re in,” Stefanski said. “The guys understand Deshaun and being a great teammate, he’s going to get his work in. Jacoby is going to do the same. I don’t see it in that vein (as a morale boost to the team), but I just see it as the next step for Deshaun being able to practice.”

Receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones on the other hand, believes Watson’s presence will help motivate the Browns to win these next two games.

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“I definitely think it can help, yes,” he said.

He believes Watson will be instrumental in helping the Browns prepare for the Bills and Bucs.

“Oh, he’s a leader, so his voice, what he thinks can help us,” Peoples-Jones said. “So, yeah, we take that into consideration.”

Peoples-Jones, who caught five of a team-high nine targets for 99 yards in Miami, expects to spend extra time with Watson before and during practice.

“I definitely think he’ll take time to prepare in the best way that he can so that he can be ready when his opportunity presents itself for him,” Peoples-Jones said.

On Wyatt Teller and Jedrick Wills Jr. ailing in Miami

The Browns’ struggles in the run game weren’t helped by the fact that guard Wyatt Teller and left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. were both hurting during the game, Teller with his calf strain and Wills with an ankle injury.

Teller tried to play only three weeks after injuring the calf, and he lasted less than two possessions before he had to come out. During the second drive, he was beaten twice in pass protection and it was clear he wasn’t himself.

“He just wasn’t feeling like he was at a percentage where he could help us,” Stefanski said. “He was fighting. He could have gone back in there, but I just didn’t feel like where he was with that injury. It wasn’t like he aggravated it. It’s not a new injury. Just going to continue to work through it.”

Wills also wasn’t himself after hurting his ankle. Nick Chubb rushed for 63 yards on 11 carries — with 33 yards coming on his rumbling touchdown, on which he spun out of tackle and plowed ahead. In the first half, he gained only 16 yards, and Kareem Hunt gained only 9 on six carries.

“I think (Wills) just rolled his ankle,” Stefanski said. “Listen, again, I’ll give credit to Miami. They rushed well. They rushed the passer well. They were stout against the run. We didn’t play as well as we have. That is the truth. Our guys have performed at a high level all year, and we didn’t yesterday. Again, I look inward and wonder what I can do better for those guys and what we can do better to give them a plan in the run and the pass game that they can play better. That’s really what I’m looking for.”

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney played only 44 snaps

Stefanski said Garrett and Clowney played only 44 snaps apiece (64%) because of the 85 degree heat.

“In that heat, we just wanted to make sure we were rolling and rotating on the defensive line as much as you could with that heat,” he said. “That was really the plan.”

The two were held without a sack by the Dolphins’ excellent tackles.

Stefanski wasn’t singling any coach out

Stefanski said he wasn’t singling anyone out when he said they should have given the players better plans for the game.

“Every coach, myself, we all need to come up with a better plan when you get beat like we got beat,” he said. “I don’t think any of us coached well enough and I don’t think any of us played well enough when you get that result. That is the truth. All of us need to be better.”

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