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Deshaun Watson, now the Browns’ starting quarterback, chooses not to address media

Deshaun Watson is expected to make his Browns debut Sunday against his former team, the Texans.David Richard/Associated Press

New Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t address the media Wednesday before practicing for the first time since being reinstated by the NFL from his 11-game suspension for alleged sexual misconduct.

Watson, accused of harassment and assault by more than two dozen women during massage therapy sessions while he played for Houston, is set to make his debut Sunday for the Browns against the Texans, who drafted him in 2017, lost his confidence, and eventually traded him to Cleveland in March.

Watson looked sharp Wednesday while getting his first starter’s reps since training camp as the Browns stayed out of the cold by working out indoors — similar to the conditions they’ll have in Houston’s NRG Stadium.

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“We’ve been waiting a long time for him to come back,” running back Nick Chubb said.

Watson’s return has been scheduled since August, when the 27-year-old accepted the lengthy suspension, a $5 million fine, and agreed to undergo mandatory therapy and counseling after an independent arbitrator ruled he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.

He was cleared last month to attend meetings and work out in the team’s facility, and Watson has been practicing since Nov. 16.

Now that he’s the starter, Watson is obligated to speak to the media, but that hasn’t happened yet. Typically, Cleveland’s starting quarterback speaks on Wednesday before Sunday games. That’s been the case with Jacoby Brissett all season.

Watson stands on the field during a break in the action at practice Wednesday.David Richard/Associated Press

However, Watson didn’t address reporters from the portable podium, and spent time sitting in his chair wearing headphones and checking his phone during the 45 minutes the locker room was open.

The Browns did not provide any reason for Watson not speaking. When asked why Watson wasn’t available, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said, “That’s not my department,” redirecting the question to the team’s media relations director.

Donald’s ironman streak over

Seven-time All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald will miss a game because of injury for the first time in his NFL career when his Rams host the Seahawks on Sunday.

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Donald has a high ankle sprain from the loss at Kansas City last Sunday, and coach Sean McVay ruled him out Wednesday.

Donald sprained his ankle in the first quarter against the Chiefs but kept playing on it, McVay said. He won’t need surgery, but his ironman streak will end at 86 games since the finale of the 2017 regular season.

“That’s what makes Aaron, Aaron,” McVay said. “He’s unbelievable. To be able to play through that, the toughness, everything that he embodies is what you love.”

Donald has missed only two games in his nine-year NFL career, both in 2017. He sat out the Rams’ season opener on the day after ending his contract holdout, and he sat out the finale to rest for the playoffs.

Donald has five sacks in 11 games this year, the slowest pace of his career, but he remains the anchor of a solid defense that has soundly outperformed its struggling offense all season.

Owens says he felt threatened

Retired NFL star Terrell Owens said a fight caught on camera in which he punched a man in a CVS parking lot was the result of an “aggressor” threatening him and a fan he was talking to at the California store.

Owens, 48, told the AP in a statement that he acted in self-defense Saturday night when the man “made offensive gestures and threatening statements” to him and a fan who approached Owens.

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The Hall of Fame wide receiver said the man approached him and the fan in the store, and in an attempt to deescalate the situation, he walked outside, where the man followed.

Owens said a fight caught on camera in which he punched a man in a CVS parking lot was the result of an “aggressor” threatening him and a fan he was talking to.Ben Margot/Associated Press

“The aggressor continued threatening the fan just as he did in the store,” Owens told the AP. “Once again, attempting to diffuse the ongoing situation, I placed myself between the fan and the aggressor. I made verbal demands asking the aggressor to stop his threatening behavior.”

Owens said the man “swung at me first” before he “felt obligated to prevent the aggressor from becoming more violent.”

It was unclear Wednesday whether police were called to the scene over the weekend. Inglewood police did not immediately respond to phone calls and an email seeking comment.

Armstead could be back soon

Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead could return sooner than initially feared after he suffered a pectoral injury last Sunday against the Texans. Miami coach Mike McDaniel said that Armstead will be evaluated on a game-to-game basis, but he did not rule out a potential return Sunday when the Dolphins face the 49ers. Armstead will not require surgery. Armstead has dealt with a lingering toe issue since the season opener, but has only missed one game this season, which was a Week 6 loss to the Vikings … Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts is done for the season because of a knee injury. Coach Arthur Smith gave an update on Pitts’s status after the second-year player revealed on social media that he had a procedure on his right knee the day before. Pitts, a Pro Bowl selection in his rookie season, sustained a knee injury in a Nov. 20 win over the Bears when tackled low. He was placed on injured reserve amid reports that he has sustained a torn MCL and would need surgery. Smith said Pitts is expected to make a full recovery ahead of next season … Longtime NFL quarterback John Hadl, who starred for his hometown Kansas Jayhawks before embarking on a professional career that included six Pro Bowl appearances and an All-Pro nod, died. He was 82.

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