Deshaun Watson embracing role as face of franchise, appreciative of Clemson family


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(USA TODAY Sports-Troy Taormina)
(USA TODAY Sports-Troy Taormina)

The Houston Texans are still scheduled to kick off the 2020 NFL season on Sept. 10 at reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City.

Deshaun Watson enters his fourth season in Houston as the face of the franchise on a team in transition offensively, after GM and coach Bill O'Brien dealt fellow former Tiger and All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

"It's just in my DNA. Leadership just comes with responsibility and things like putting the work first. People just follow," Watson said in a news conference last week. "That's how I lead. With putting the weight on my shoulders, I don't see it that way. I know it's a lot of pressure to play quarterback, especially for this organization. We want to achieve things this organization hasn't done. I feel like I have the mindset and have the work ethic and the pieces around me to be able to do that. We're just taking it one day at a time.

"If I can just focus on that and not put too much unnecessary pressure on myself, I think things will just go as it should."

The 2020 campaign has some added responsibilities surrounding taking precautions with COVID-19 to keep the season on track.

"We've got to be responsible. We've got to be professionals," he said. "We've got to do it the right way. For us to be able to do what we want to do, and that's play and have a season and stay on a team, you have to be able to give that advice, give those leadership talks...We've been doing a good job of handling that, especially in a city like Houston. I think guys are focused and being able to take responsibility of what you're doing. We're doing a good job of that, but I can't speak on anybody else."

Watson was asked about the plan offensively when he needs key yards through the air and Hopkins isn't there as a sure-handed target.

"Go routes to 15 (Will Fuller V), go routes to 12 (Kenny Stills), go routes to 13 (Brandin Cooks), crossing routes to 18 (Randall Cobb), 16 (Keke Coutee), the boys, the Johnson boys (Duke Johnson and David Johnson) coming out of the backfield and spreading the ball around," said Watson. "Being able to find the open man and take my game to another level and just spread the wealth. Not necessarily we didn't do that in the previous years, but you have the No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He's going to do his part and get his targets. You have to make sure that he's doing what he needs to do. Now we have depth and we have a lot of experience and a lot of veteran guys.

"We'll be able to spread it around. Guys are going to do their part to be able to get touchdowns."

Watson was also asked last week about how Clemson supported him during a tough time with his mom undergoing treatment for tongue cancer.

"The Clemson family, they were behind me through everything," he said. "Once I received that offer and I committed to them after my freshman, going into my sophomore year, it was family. It was a 'once you're in, you can't get out.' It was one of those feelings where I didn't want to get out. They've been supporting me ever since then, supporting my mom and making sure I'm straight.

"Every time I come on campus for a game, they show so much love and support. Everyone let me be free and I felt like I was at home. The Clemson family, Chad Morris and Coach (Dabo) Swinney, all the coaching staff, they made sure that I was good at all times. They made sure I was in good hands. They did their part and I did mine and it led to a lot of success."

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