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Need to Know: Browns LT Joe Thomas to decide on playing future during offseason

Posted Dec 28, 2017

Veteran Pro Bowler is 2 months into recovery from triceps surgery

Two months removed from season-ending triceps surgery, Joe Thomas said he was sticking to his original plan when it comes to determining his future for 2018 and beyond.

That meant Thomas had nothing to announce Thursday when he met with reporters inside the Browns locker room.

“My decision-making process is going to be this winter, I’m going to sit down with my family and kind of discuss where I am about continuing to play,” Thomas said. “I think it will come down to really, first and foremost, my health. Do I feel like I’m still playing at an elite level and do I still love it? For me, I feel like when I make that decision, which will be after the season, that is really what it is going to come down to.”

Thomas has certainly stayed busy during his down time. On top of his daily rehab, Thomas has served as a de facto coach with the offensive line and tackled a number of projects with the Browns’ in-house content and production department, serving as a gameday weather reporter and recording a weekly podcast, among other things.

When Thomas went down with the injury, which snapped an 11-year, 10,363-consecutive snap streak, he made a vow to not become a distraction to the rest of the team. That’s why he hasn’t even started the process of coming to that all-important decision.

“I don’t think it is fair to myself because in the middle of the season you go through a range of emotions, especially when you are on IR, you are injured and then you are watching games,” Thomas said. “Sometimes you are really happy. Sometimes you are really sad. It is a roller coaster of emotions to be in season on IR watching guys play. I think a decision to continuing to play or not is best left in the offseason when you have time to sit down and get away from it a little bit and meet with your family and come up with the best decision for yourself.”

It’s clear where the Browns stand with Thomas, who had his contract modified recently to make him one of the league’s top-paid offensive linemen. Browns coach Hue Jackson said Thursday he hopes Thomas returns for a simple reason: He makes the team a lot better when he’s on the field.

“This football team needs him,” Jackson said. “He is a leader of this whole group so we would love to have him back, but again, in his own time, he will make that choice and decision and we will be there awaiting that word.”

-- Jackson said there’s nothing the Browns can do this week but prepare to face the Steelers’ full dose of starters.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was non-committal Wednesday when he was asked about the prospect of resting some of the team’s key players. The Steelers on Monday clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs and would only improve their seeding if they beat the Browns and the Patriots lose at home to the Jets.

If the Steelers rest offensive playmakers Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell, it’d mark the second consecutive year in which the Browns faced a Pittsburgh lineup with backups in several spots. Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown already has been ruled out with a calf injury.

“If they surprise us and don’t play them, then they don’t play them,” Jackson said, “but I think we have to expect that they are going to put their best people out there.”

-- Jackson wants to see more consistent production from wide receiver Corey Coleman, and he knows Coleman feels the same way.

After posting five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown Week 14 against the Packers, Coleman has two catches for 19 yards in the past two games. On the season, which included an eight-game absence because of a broken hand, Coleman has 22 receptions for 287 yards and two scores.

“He wants to contribute more to the football team,” Jackson said. “I think it is a combination of things. Sometimes he is open and we don’t find him, and sometimes he has to do things a little bit better. That is what young players do. I just think that is where he is, but I think he is getting better and I think he has worked hard. The fact that he has made it through the rest of the season I think is encouraging.”

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