The start of mandatory minicamp is raising more questions than answers for the Cleveland Browns. Uncertainty surrounds both the contract status of the absent Amari Cooper and the long-term health of Deshaun Watson. While the star wide receiver presumably seeks a sizable extension, the controversial quarterback is focused on meeting the high expectations the organization set for him in March of 2022.

Despite earning a 5-1 record as the team's starting quarterback last season, Watson has failed to play close to his ceiling during his time in Cleveland. A season-ending shoulder injury halted the moderate progress he seemed to be making and forced head coach Kevin Stefanski to experiment with multiple QBs before unexpectedly striking gold with 16-year veteran Joe Flacco. The Super Bowl 47 MVP was only a temporary solution, however.

If Watson does not start living up to his staggering $230 million contract, then the Browns will have yet another catastrophe to add to their embattled history. He has just 14 touchdown passes and a 59.8 completion percentage in 12 games for the franchise. The three-time Pro Bowler is fully aware of the chatter concerning his performance, and he is putting a positive spin on it.

“Each and every fan, each and every media person wants to see me at a level that I'm capable of doing,” Deshaun Watson said Tuesday, per Sports Illustrated's Anthony Moeglin. “That's the standard. If I was at the bottom, no one would talk about me. So the way I see it, if people are talking about me… then I must be pretty damn good.”

It is hard to argue with him. Disappointment naturally breeds conjecture. The Dawg Pound has suffered through enough dejection and organizational dysfunction. It is ready to be rescued and delivered into a state of sustained success.

The pressure is only mounting for Browns' Deshaun Watson

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws during minicamp,

While it is encouraging to hear Watson embrace the criticism, he is entering a pivotal campaign. Cleveland sneakily won 11 games and clinched an AFC Wild Card berth last season, so there should be some urgency in the front office to maximize the potential of its talented roster. The former national champion and Houston Texans star is the key to the Browns becoming a legitimate contender.

Or rather the best version of him is. It remains to be seen if Watson is still able to carry an offense and post a 4,000-yard passing season after settling more than 20 sexual misconduct civil lawsuits and enduring injury troubles over the past few years. He is looking ahead, though.

Watson has not been a full participant in either organized team activities or mandatory minicamp, but he is throwing the ball. Assuming the 28-year-old can get up to full speed by the Sept. 8 opener, he will be expected to produce like his old Pro Bowl self.

With running back Nick Chubb working his way back from a gruesome leg injury, Amari Cooper being a no-show and Jerry Jeudy coming in as a complete wild card, Deshaun Watson might need to be the glue that holds the offense together. Will the Dawg Pound's barks rise to earsplitting levels, or can No. 4 silence the noise?

The Browns eagerly await an answer to that crucial and ultra-expensive question.