Following the season-ending injury news of QB Deshaun Watson Wednesday morning, HC Kevin Stefanski announced Wednesday afternoon that rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will start at quarterback against the Steelers.
“Just felt like every week you’re trying to just make the best decisions you can for your team,” Stefanski said. “I want to give him a week where he knows he’s a starter, he gets a full week of preparation.”
In Thompson-Robinson’s first start this season against the Ravens in Week 4, he was informed that he was starting hours before the game on Oct. 1 after Watson was ruled out for the game. Against the Ravens, Thompson-Robinson completed 19 of 26 passes for 121 yards and three interceptions. He also sacked four times. The Browns lost to the Ravens 28-3.
Then, heading into Week 6 against the 49ers, PJ Walker was officially named the backup quarterback, but earned the start on Oct. 13 after Watson was ruled out. Walker also finished the game in Week 7 against the Colts after Watson was injured in the first quarter and did not return. Walker then started Week 8 in Seattle.
Thompson-Robinson completed one pass for nine yards in the matchup against the Seahawks in Week 8. When the Browns face the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium, it will be Thompson-Robinson’s second start this season.
Yet, Stefanski is confident that Thompson-Robinson has grown through his experience both in the loss to the Ravens in Week 4, as well as in practices in the subsequent weeks. His teammates have also seen a growth of maturity from Thompson-Robinson. LB Anthony Walker Jr. has noticed it in his preparation throughout each week. Thompson-Robinson was the scout team player of the week as Stefanski gave him the scout team game ball for his work in prepping the Browns defense to face the Ravens in Baltimore. He’s improved in practices and puts in the work in the meeting room with his teammates and with OC Alex Van Pelt.
“He’s played a lot of football,” Stefanski said. “He’s very athletic, he can make plays. He has a very good understanding of what we do, of our offense and those type of things. So, he’s a young player that I think he will just continue to get better.”
Stefanski said they are still relying on Walker, though, to stay prepared in his role.
“So as a backup – and in that room as a backup quarterback – you have to understand the offense in and out,” Stefanski said. “You have to be ready to operate from the huddle, operate at the line of scrimmage. Those are all things that you prepare yourself for during the week. So, nothing’s going to change from that perspective. We expect who’s ever out there just to do their job.”