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Thomas: 'Challenge is front seven'

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas says the challenge in facing the Baltimore Ravens lies in lining up the against the front seven.

When Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas studies film of the Baltimore Ravens, the Browns' opponent Thursday night, his focus stays near the line of scrimmage.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection pays close attention to those who will be rushing the passer from the edge of the defense. This season, the Ravens have registered eight tackles for 58 lost yards. Of those eight sacks, 3.5 have been registered by edge rushers.

“For me, the challenge is the front seven,” Thomas said. “I feel like it’s that way every week, but in the small world that the O-line lives in, that’s what it is. You look at the front seven they have and they’re deep; they’re experienced and they’ve got very good talent, so it’s going to be a really good challenge for our O-line.”

Cleveland’s offensive line has been tested by Pro Bowl pass rushers in Jason Babin (Philadelphia) and Mario Williams (Buffalo) over the first three weeks of the season. They have allowed eight sacks for 50 lost yards.

Ravens rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw has collected 14 total tackles, including a 1/2 sack for six lost yards. He has started the past two games at strong side linebacker in place of Paul Kruger.

“I look at all their guys that are rushing the passer over the tackle and they’ve all done a very nice job,” Thomas said. “Courtney Upshaw’s done a really good job for a rookie and Paul Kruger has had my respect since he got in this league. Haloti Ngata is out there. You go down the list and they’ve got a very deep team outside rushing the passer.”

In addition to handling Baltimore’s pass rush, Thomas and the Browns will have to contend with the energy of 71,000 Ravens fans at M&T Bank Stadium. However, Thomas is embracing the opportunity to put last Sunday’s 24-14 home loss to the Bills in the rearview mirror and compete against the 2-1 Ravens, who are in a first-place tie with the Cincinnati Bengals atop the AFC North Division.

“When you lose one game, you’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t cause you to lose the next game because you’re dwelling on it or worried about it,” Thomas said. “On this team and any team in the NFL, you come in on Monday, you make the corrections and then, you put that game behind you and look forward to the next week and play as well as you can and try to win that game. That’s just the way it has to be because you can’t dwell on past losses or anything like that.

“They’ve got a very good team, very good fan support behind them and it’s a very tough place to play, no matter who’s going in there. I think it’s a great time. This is a really good team we’re going to be playing on the road on national TV, and I think it’s a great chance for us to try to get our first win. I definitely think we’re improving and hopefully, we show it on Thursday with a win.”