Dependable Thomas looks to grab leadership role
Joe Thomas is one of the few people the Cleveland Browns have
been able to depend on.
Entering his fourth NFL season, Thomas has started all 48 games
the team has played since Cleveland selected the offensive left
tackle with the third pick in the 2007 draft.
Thomas, who has yet to miss an offensive snap, has been a rock
of consistency for a team that has been plagued by losing and
turmoil. Thomas was one of the Browns captains in 2009 and looks to
assume even more of a leadership role this season.
”I feel like that’s happening,” said Thomas, who has made the
Pro Bowl in all three seasons. ”Last year, was my first year as a
captain. I feel like I’m starting to step up in the locker room and
meeting rooms and, hopefully, trying to carry that over for another
year and improve on that.”
Thomas and his offensive teammates find themselves working with
yet another new quarterback. Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn shared
the duties the last three seasons. Both are gone. Jake Delhomme
will be this season’s starter, with Seneca Wallace and rookie Colt
McCoy in reserve.
Getting accustomed to working with Delhomme is one of Thomas’
top priorities in training camp.
”Getting with Jake and trying to kind of get this offense
moving in the direction that we want (is important),” Thomas
The Browns have completed one week of camp and Thomas likes the
routine that has developed.
”It’s a good feel,” he said. ”It seems like every camp I’m in
there’s always a good, positive buzz going around and everybody’s
very optimistic. I see that this year, the same way.”
While hardly a grizzled veteran, Thomas has a definite opinion
on the rigors of camp.
”I don’t know if it ever gets easier,” he said. ”I think it
just is what it is. You know what to expect, so maybe things are a
little bit easier because you’re maybe not as nervous. You’ve got
more expectations about how things are going to run, but it never
Left guard Eric Steinbach signed with the Browns in 2007 and has
played alongside Thomas for three years.
”I’ve been in the league seven years and obviously he’s one of
the better, if not the best, tackle in the game right now,”
Steinbach said. ”He’s only been in the league three years. My
first here year he was a rookie and he came in and played right
away. He did a tremendous job. Each year he’s a consistent, solid
Thomas became an instant hit with Cleveland fans. He bypassed
the pomp and circumstance of draft day three years ago to go
fishing. The 6-foot-6, 312-pounder co-hosts his own fishing show on
a local television station. Thomas is signed through the 2011
season so it’s unclear whether he will be in Cleveland beyond
”I’m just taking it one year at a time and when the time comes
to talk about long-term, I’m sure the Browns will come to me,”
Thomas said. ”But we’re just trying to win games and turn this
team into a winner. The contract things always take care of
Thomas and the other players get a break in the routine Saturday
when the team holds its annual scrimmage at Cleveland Browns
Stadium. The players will break into Brown and White Squads and
play four 10-minute quarters. Coach Eric Mangini wants to simulate
game conditions as much as possible.
”It should be fun,” Mangini said. ”I look forward to a big
crowd turnout. Rookies don’t understand how noisy it gets at our
place, but they will soon enough.”
The coaching staff has divided up the teams as fairly as
possible for the scrimmage. Delhomme and Brett Ratliff, last
season’s third-string quarterback, will work with one team while
Wallace and McCoy will play for the other.
Delhomme threw three interceptions in Thursday’s practice.
”I don’t want any three interception games,” Mangini said.
”The encouraging thing is the defense is creating more
The Browns won’t be at full strength. Nose tackle Shaun Rogers,
defensive lineman C.J. Moseley and defensive back Coye Francis are
on the physically unable to perform list. Several other players
could miss the scrimmage with injuries.
Punter Dave Zastudill, who missed the final eight games last
season because of surgery on his right knee (non-kicking leg), left
camp earlier in the week to have the knee examined. He returned
Friday, but did not practice. Mangini didn’t rule out that
Zastudill, who averaged 44.7 yards a kick last season, would have
”I don’t think we’ve drawn any conclusion right now,” Mangini
said. ”I don’t think there’s anything new as of yet. We’ll talk
about it and see where it goes.”