It’s no secret joint practices during NFL training camps can get quite feisty. They’re supposed to.
However, Cleveland Browns All-Pro offensive lineman Joel Bitonio felt the Philadelphia Eagles took it too far and accused them of taking “cheap shots” at quarterback Deshaun Watson.
After the second joint practice session together, Bitonio took the opportunity to voice his concerns about the alleged rough treatment that Watson had endured from the Philly defenders.
“I don’t know the exact situation, but there were a couple of shots today where we’re trying to make sure we’re getting the best out of practice and not fighting,” Bitonio said.
Bitonio didn’t hold back, referencing what he called “cheap shots” directed at Watson by the Eagles.
The incident that seemed to draw the most attention was a play in which Eagles defender Josh Sweat managed to knock the ball out of Watson’s hands in a strip-sack maneuver.
“You’re not supposed to do that,” Bitonio exclaimed, highlighting the level of intensity that had taken over the practice session.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 15, 2023
For the Browns, these joint practices held significant importance as they sought to cultivate a strong synergy between Watson and the rest of the offensive unit.
Watson’s first season with the Browns was a disaster for obvious reasons.
In Cleveland’s latest preseason game against the Washington Commanders, Watson had a (very) brief opportunity to showcase his progress, going 3-of-3 for 12 yards during a single drive.
With the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals right around the corner on September 10th, Watson needs all the reps he can get – which is exactly why Bitonio knows the importance of protecting him and keeping him upright.
At the end of the day, the Eagles defenders were just being annoying pests. In other words, they were just doing their jobs.
How do you think the Eagles and Browns will do this season?
Will Watson ever regain his Pro Bowl form?