HOUSTON — As the Houston Texans took the field for their first day of training camp on Wednesday morning, all eyes were on quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson reported to training camp this past Sunday after requesting a trade from the Texans in January. Less than two months later, the first of 23 lawsuits was filed accusing Watson of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. He currently faces 22 active lawsuits.
Despite the legal situation, general manager Nick Caserio and head coach David Culley said Watson’s presence at training camp has not been a distraction.
“It’s not been a distraction at all,” Culley said when he addressed the media on the first day of camp. “Very professional about everything, just like all the guys who have been here. It’s been business as usual.”
Watson participated in individual drills during practice Wednesday but did not take part in any team drills — other than to stand in as a scout-team safety. Culley said that was because Watson did not show up for the team’s offseason program and needed to get acclimated to the team during this “ramp-up” period.
“Not going through the offseason, especially with the nature of the way the league is right now with the limited reps, and the limited things that we can do during the offseason … we want to make sure that during this ramp-up period, that nothing happens,” Culley said. “I mean, guys throw too much, guys’ arms get sore. And we want to make sure none of those things happen.”
Culley declined to say whether he expects Watson to be on the team at the start of the season.
“We’ll kind of take it one day at a time, and ultimately, we’re going to do what we feel is best for the Houston Texans,” Caserio said when asked about Watson’s future with the team.
Watson did not speak to the media after practice, but three of his teammates — wide receiver Brandin Cooks, running back David Johnson and safety A.J. Moore — all declined to comment about the situation.
The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the league is still in the process of its investigation into allegations against Watson and did not put any restrictions on the quarterback taking part in club activities.