BEREA - The Browns had just finished their first practice of training camp and tight end Benjamin Watson was hit with a question about retirement.
That's not what the nine-year veteran wanted to hear.
"Retiring! I'm 31 years young," Watson replied.
The Associated Press
Browns tight end Benjamin Watson walks on the field with his two daughters after a workout Saturday in Berea.
Watson doesn't like dealing with the topic, but it's a fair question considering he suffered three concussions last season. He was placed on the injured-reserve list after a game in Pittsburgh Dec. 8.
Given the talk in recent years about the long-term health effects of concussions, it would have been understandable if Watson had considered retiring. Apparently he never gave it a second thought.
"Every injury is different," Watson said. "Every concussion is different. Every knee injury. Every neck injury. Every brain injury. Everyone is in a different position. You look at your recovery from your injury, whatever it is, and you make decisions based on that.
"Based on my recovery and my injuries and my doctors and the team's doctors, I'm cleared. That's a thing of the past. That was eight months ago. We're excited about moving forward and seeing what we can build and hopefully do a lot better than we did last year."
Browns coach Pat Shurmur expressed concern about Watson, who finished last season with 37 receptions for 410 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's in the back of my mind," Shurmur said. "Anybody that's had multiple concussions. You move forward. You develop the guy to play and get him his reps. Guys get injured and you put the next guy in there."
Tight end is an important spot in any west-coast offense. They can become a favorite target of quarterbacks in the short passing game, in addition to assisting the running game as a blocker.
Watson is expected to be the starter. Evan Moore, who's not known for his blocking, will be used in sets with two tight ends. Alex Smith will provide help as an extra blocker, and second-year veteran Jordan Cameron is the wild card in the mix.
"You need to use multiple tight ends, much like you slip an extra running back in there or you use three receivers," Shurmur said. "That's a key position in our offense because you have to learn how to function on the end of the line of scrimmage; then you have to learn how to function in space and you have to be able to function in backfield-type settings as well."
Cameron had a small role last season, but that could change this year. He checked into training camp at about the same weight as last year (250 pounds), but he's replaced some of the fat with muscle.
With the learning experience of his rookie season out of the way, the door is open for Cameron to step in. He's definitely a fall-back option if Moore has another less-than-average season.
"Opportunity is not your friend," Cameron said. When opportunities come up you have to take advantage of them. There's a short window to get in there and make plays. I have to take advantage of the opportunities they give me."
Cameron was inactive eight times last season. He caught six passes for 33 yards in the other eight games, while also participating on special teams.
"It was good to be in a room with those other guys, teaching me every single day how to be a pro," Cameron said. "Then this offseason letting it all soak in and taking a step back and looking at it from a different point of view. It's been good getting a few more details in the route running and the blocking technique."
Now is the time to put it all to good use.