Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Richard/AP/Shutterstock (13643858p) Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson calls a play during an NFL football practice at the team's training facility, in Berea, Ohio Browns Watson Returns Football, Berea, United States - 30 Nov 2022

Lovie Smith knows who’s coming to town this Sunday

Hint: It’s not Santa Claus, but he’s definitely on the naughty list.

While many Texans fans may be semi-checked out on this season, this week will be different. It will be a lot different. Every Houston Texans fan has a vested interest in their game this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium.

The savior turned pariah is returning to his former home.

“ … We have to move on and get ready for a big week. We realize who’s coming into town. I’m talking about the football team that’s coming into town and what all that brings with us.”

That was part of Lovie Smith’s opening statement from Monday’s press conference.

It will be the first time that Deshaun Watson returns to Houston as a member of another team. Watson was traded to the Cleveland Browns in the offseason and then given a record-setting, fully guaranteed contract by the Browns. He was then suspended for the team’s first 11 games of the season. Sunday will be his first time returning to action in a regular season game since 2020. Watson sat out 2021 in Houston.

How will the Texans prepare for Watson?

“There’s not a whole lot of video on him, is there? We have a whole lot of it, though. I mean, he hasn’t played in a long period of time, but he’s a heck of a football player. I know that. I assume playing quarterback is a lot like riding a bike. It comes back to you fairly quickly. I know he has been practicing with them. They have been playing good football. Adding Deshaun (Watson) will make them that much better. They beat a good Tampa team yesterday. They played good football throughout. Balanced attack offensively. They have a running game, excellent running backs. Superstars on the defensive side of the ball. It will be a big test for us.”

Lovie doesn’t think the history between Watson and the Texans will be a big factor:

“I assume yes, some. But it’s been a long period of time. I think most of our guys, a lot of the guys we have, didn’t play with Deshaun (Watson). Again, it’s so much more. We played an outstanding quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) yesterday. It was more than just the quarterback, and that will be the case this week.”

Smith acknowledged a small amount of déjà vu when it comes to having to answer questions about Watson again:

“You’re right; it was a little bit different last year. Deshaun (Watson) was in the building a little bit, but we didn’t have a whole lot of interaction with him. But that is in the past. Changed area codes and all that. Now it’s just about a great quarterback coming into town that we need to get ready for with a history with our franchise. I think it’s just about that. When you start watching the video of them as a football team, you kind of move past that. Did I tell you we’ve got a lot of young guys? They don’t know a whole lot about our past and what we’ve done. They are just trying to get better and help us get another win.”

Is this the week all parties get closure?

“Yeah. I think this will probably be the final piece to that story. Deshaun (Watson) is back. He’s playing football. The way things go, his first game would be back down here. What a great opportunity for us, too. Again, we hadn’t played our best ball. A lot of people will be watching this game, and hopefully, we put our best effort we’ve had all year.”

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