The Cleveland Browns struggled to find a healthy right tackle during the 2011 season, and they addressed that need by selecting
The Browns bookended their offensive line with Schwartz on one side and a perennial Pro Bowler in
They allowed 36 sacks for 233 lost yards, which averages out to just over two sacks per game over a 16-game schedule.
Behind Thomas, left guard
The offensive line also blocked for rookie running back
“They’re kind of the anchor of everything we do,” Weeden said. “They kept me clean pretty much every game. I think they played outstanding week-in and week-out. I think they’re probably the most consistent group offensively. I’m very fortunate to have the guys in front of me that are there because they played their tails off, not only for me, but for Trent as well. “Running the football and doing the things to open up the throwing game, and vice-versa, I would say they’re the most valuable part of our offense. Those guys have been remarkable all year.”
After another season where he took every offensive snap at left tackle, Thomas made his sixth consecutive appearance in the Pro Bowl earlier this month. He has started every game and taken each snap on the Browns’ offensive line since being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Thomas has played in 96 consecutive games, which is tied for the sixth-longest active streak among all NFL offensive linemen. With this all-star game appearance, Thomas joined running back Leroy Kelly, Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Gene Hickerson and tackle Dick Schafrath in a third-place tie for the most Pro Bowl appearances in franchise history.
“When I found out I was coming to Cleveland, I knew I had a Pro Bowl left tackle,” Weeden said. “I think any quarterback would be lying if they said that didn’t make them sleep better at night. He’s a security blanket back there. You know what you’re going to get from Joe. We’ve got some great edge rushers not only in this division, but in this game that Joe’s able to contain and keep them off my blindside. He’s a great leader. He rallies those four other guys and is the centerpiece of that offensive line.”
The Browns had four players take every snap of the season on their respective side of the football and all of them were offensive linemen. Thomas, Mack, Lauvao and Schwartz started every game for the Browns.
Along with Thomas, Mack has started every game since being drafted by the Browns in 2009. His games-played streak currently stands at 64, and Lauvao has made 32 straight starts.
What To Watch For:
The progress Schwartz makes with a second full offseason of work and training camp.
During his first preseason game, Schwartz lined up and struggled against the “wide-nine” look of the Detroit Lions and saw the same front in the preseason home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, when the Eagles returned for the regular-season opener, Schwartz made the necessary adjustments, as Weeden was sacked just twice in the one-point loss to Philadelphia.
“The thing about Mitchell is he’s one of the smartest guys on this football team,” Weeden said. “It’s not even close. If you tell him something once, he’s got it. He’s able to talk to you after the game and remember a play. He sees everything and it’s like the game is moving in slow-motion for him. That’s unbelievable for a rookie. Going against great pass rushers, he’s played extremely well all year. If you don’t hear their name and don’t know much about them, that’s usually a good thing. He’s got an extremely bright future and having those two guys on the edge is always a positive.”