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Thomas set to reach career milestone

Posted Sep 25, 2013

Sunday’s game against the Bengals will be the 100th in the seven-year career of six-time Pro Bowler Joe Thomas.

When the Cleveland Browns selected left tackle Joe Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, they made an investment in their offensive line that has paid dividends from the time he stepped on the field for his first training-camp practice.

Now, seven years later, Thomas is preparing for his 13th career game against the Cincinnati Bengals, which also happens to be the 100th of his career.

“I still feel like a youngster, but 100 seems like a lot of games when you think about it,” Thomas joked. “Just getting into the triple digits is starting to get up there.”

Thomas has not only started each of the previous 99 games, but also taken every one of the 6,054 offensive snaps the Browns have made since the beginning of the 2007 season. It is the longest current streak on the Browns’ roster, and along with his teammate, center Alex Mack, as well as New York Jets offensive lineman D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Atlanta’s Justin Blalock, Thomas is one of four NFL players who have taken every offensive snap since 2009.

“It’s tough to be healthy in this league for 16 games, and to be able to do that for multiple seasons in a row and not even have to come off the field one time,” Thomas said. “I think it is a little bit of a point of pride, especially for the guys that have played in the NFL. They understand how hard it is to play every, single week, stay healthy and try to play at a high level.

“I try to do the little things off the field to try to take care of my body, to make sure I can withstand an entire season. Stretching, I think, is a really important thing that often gets overlooked, but genetics is a big part of it. You see guys that are just injury-prone and guys that are durable and last forever. That’s something that can’t be overlooked.”

By having the third-longest active streak for consecutive starts by an NFL offensive lineman and playing at a Pro Bowl level for the first six years of his career, something only 15 others have ever accomplished, Thomas has earned the respect of his teammates and former Browns alike.

“To play every week is tough, but to play at the consistent level that he’s played at is pretty amazing,” said Browns Legend Doug Dieken, who made 194 straight starts and played in 203 consecutive games, both franchise records, from 1971-84. “The thing about it is, Joe takes care of himself, and he knows his game, knows his body. He’s as advertised as the third pick overall.

“When you’ve had the successes that he’s had, if you say something, people listen because they understand he’s a six-time Pro Bowler in six years. Everybody wants to have that kind of resume.”

Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz added, “It’s impressive for him. It’s a tribute to him that he’s able to get there and do something so well and to play as well as he has for that long. With him, it’s a consistency in what he does. He’s obviously very good at his job. Being able to do that, snap-in and snap-out, there’s never a letdown, there’s never a bad play or anything. It’s always a consistently high production from him.”

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