The Cincinnati Bengals enter the 2022 NFL season as the defending AFC champions and find themselves in a division that has gone through quite a bit of change. Most notably, the Cleveland Browns traded for the quarterback Deshaun Watson and see a bit of hype ahead of the summer, but the Bengals defensive tackle DJ player said he and his teammates pay no attention to the fact that the Browns are listed as the betting favorites to win the AFC North, according to DraftKings.
Reader played with Watson from 2014-15 at Clemson as well as 2017-19 when they were both with the Houston Texans.
“I do not know,” The reader said when asked if surprised, the Browns were among the favorites to win the division, via NFL.com. “I watched a few UFC fights over the weekend. Vegas gets it wrong sometimes too. They win most of the time, they’re home, but they get it wrong just as often. We do not care? It seems like it’s going through us right now, so until someone comes and takes it from us, I’m going to have faith in us.”
Reader played and started in 15 of 17 regular season games in his second campaign with the Bengals after a four-year stint with the Texans. He combined for 43 tackles (22 solo), three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Watson, previously with the Texans his entire career, missed the 2021 season while being investigated for sexual assault charges. The 11th of March, a grand jury decided that Watson would not be charged with a crime related to nine of the women who made the allegations, which then led to him being traded to the Browns shortly thereafter.
“I think he’s doing a really good job learning the system,” the Browns head coach said. Kevin Stefanski said last month. “He spends a lot of time with Jacoby (Brissett) and Josh (Dobbs). We really have three new quarterbacks in there. So there’s a lot of learning going on, there’s a lot of teaching — as you can imagine. I think he does a good job of diving into it. And there’s really no other way to do that than to start at square one and go back to how we call things, formations, defensive terminology, etc. And he does a good job.
With Watson quickly adjusting to the Browns’ offense, fans will likely be excited for what’s to come in the future. Clemson’s No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson has already made three Pro bowls and led the NFL in passing once. Watson threw for an average of 3,634.75 yards per season and an average of 26 touchdowns per year.
Riley Gates contributed to this report.