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Childress, Shurmur appreciate Thomas

Posted Nov 30, 2012

Joe Thomas’ work on the field and in the meeting rooms has left a good impression on Browns coaches.

Since the Cleveland Browns made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Joe Thomas has been a mainstay at left tackle and a Pro Bowl player on five occasions.

Thomas has made 91 consecutive starts, tied for the sixth-longest active streak among all NFL offensive linemen. In addition, he has played every snap of those games and is one of four Browns who has participated on every play this year. Coincidently, the other three are also offensive linemen: center Alex Mack, right guard Shawn Lauvao and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

“He’s got great feet,” offensive coordinator Brad Childress said of Thomas. “He’s got a good reach; he can use his hands. He can separate and get people to stay away from him. He doesn’t have soft hands, like a concert pianist. He’s got hard hands. Some guys have those and pull them away when they get hit.

“He’s got good balance because you can get out of balance in a heck of a hurry. He’s got the ability to be able to sit down on a rush when somebody wants to bull rush him. He’s able to drop his weight and be able to sit down, which all those big guys, those big aircraft carriers can’t do. They can’t sit down and hold up when somebody just wants to drive them down the middle. Those are a few of the factors. He’s very smart, takes great notes, prepares great. He’s got all those things going for him.”

Browns coach Pat Shurmur sees Thomas as the complete package at left tackle, one able to protect the passer and clear holes in opposing defenses for the running backs to dart through and gain yardage.

“He’s an outstanding pass blocker, which I think is important in this league,” Shurmur said. “He’s a very efficient run blocker and he’s done it for a long, long time, game after game, year after year. (He’s) a good player that’s consistent.”

According to Childress, Thomas’ work ethic is contagious, especially for Schwartz, the team’s rookie right tackle.

“I’d say they’re very, very, very similar, aside from one plays in a left-hand stance, one plays in a right-hand stance,” Childress said. “I see those same attributes in being able to sit down against the rush and I think Joe’s probably ahead of him in terms of the hand-fighting and using his arms, using his length, but Mitchell’s a very quick study and he rarely makes the same mistake twice, whether it’s during the course of a game or whether it’s correcting them in practice. I think he’s the chief note-taker for that group. I believe he’s the guy that everybody gets the Cliffs Notes from. He’s the scribe. He’s pretty good.”

Despite losing left guard Jason Pinkston for the season, the offensive line has cleared the way for rookie running back Trent Richardson to rush for 755 yards and six touchdowns on 209 carries. They have also blocked for quarterback Brandon Weeden to pass for a rookie team-record of 2,456 yards on 222 completions and 12 touchdowns.

Weeden has been sacked 20 times for 129 lost yards, which ranks the team fifth in the AFC and sixth in the NFL for sacks per pass play. Weeden has attempted 397 passes through 11 games.

“Offensive linemen have to work together and the longer that they play together, the smoother it goes,” Shurmur said. “Adding John Greco to the mix midway through the season has been good. John’s done a pretty good job for us. The challenge for them is to continue. They’re a unit that works well together. They’re very critical of their mistakes and they take great pride in having a runner that’s efficient and a quarterback that stays on his feet.”

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