Joe Thomas knows how to stay busy no matter the circumstances.
Out for the season because of a torn triceps muscle, the 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle has remained ever-present inside the Browns' practice facility. On top of his daily rehab, Thomas has essentially served as an assistant coach while tackling a number of other media opportunities. Last week, he launched a podcast, "The First Podcast in NFL History," and there's more on the way.
ClevelandBrowns.com caught up with Thomas earlier this week to pick his brain on a number of topics.
CB.com: It's been a little more than a month since you suffered your season-ending injury. How's it healing up?
Thomas: I'm feeling pretty good. I just got my brace off yesterday. I haven't been able to do too much as far as the rehab process goes, but now that I'm in my seventh week after surgery, they're going to start letting me do some range-of-motion things and some very light, strengthening things to try to get my muscle back.
CB.com: Anything at all surprised you about this whole process?
Thomas: Not yet. It's been a slow process, slower than I'm used to with most of the surgeries I've had. I guess the tendon healing back to the bone is one of the slower processes in the body. It's something you just have to take some time with.
CB.com: You were doing some form of coaching while you were healthy, but what's it been like now on sort of a full-time basis?
Thomas: It's been fun. I've been really able to see both sides of the ball on game day, which is something I'm not used to doing. Typically on game day, I'm so focused on my own job and own role that I hardly pay attention to what's going on outside of offensive line play. It's been fun watching the defense. It's been fun helping the defensive guys out with game-planning against offensive linemen and in-game adjustments, strategies, pass rush moves. I've really enjoyed that side of things.
CB.com: When some guys suffer season-ending injuries, they kind of vanish. What's inspired you to stick around so much?
Thomas: I like being around here. I like being in the building and I like working around these guys. We've got an outstanding group of offensive linemen, we've got a great team and it's fun being around them. There's a youthful energy in the building. Being able to go out and impart some of the wisdom I've gained over 11 years of playing pro football has been a lot of fun. I think it's been valuable to some guys.
CB.com: How've you seen Spencer Drango fill your shoes so far?
Thomas: I think he's done a great job. He's definitely exceeded expectations. He's been fun to work with because he's very coachable and he definitely wants to please the coaching staff. I think he's done a tremendous job.
CB.com: I'm sure the Packers were a big part of your life growing up in Wisconsin. How would you assess their place in your childhood?
Thomas: I was a big Packers fan growing up. I was 12 when they won the Super Bowl in '96. I had a lot of childhood heroes on those teams. The first few times I got to play in Lambeau Field against the Packers was emotional for me because that was my childhood team, just like many people who grow up in Cleveland or Northeast Ohio. They've got a passion for their hometown team. Early on in my career it was definitely emotional because I remember all those times when my dad and I would watch the game on Sunday. We didn't miss many games.
CB.com: Does your family still openly root for the Packers or do they try to hide it?
Thomas: Early on in my career, everyone said, "We're a Browns fan unless they're playing the Packers." Now, most people are converted Browns fans but I think they all still cheer for the Packers as well.
CB.com: You've got some extra time on your hands to do some different projects with the Browns and media. What's that experience been like?
Thomas: It's been fun. I've been working with the media department coming up with different ideas of different things we can put together and am sort of working on some of the visions I have for different projects within the building. We've got a new thing coming up this week called "Dear Joe" where I answer fans' questions. They can ask me anything they want, which will be kind of fun, and one thing I've really enjoyed so far is starting a podcast. I've been working on a couple of podcasts here with different players, different people in the building. It's been really fun for me to get to know individuals on the team on a deeper level and hopefully show the fans a different side of the player they cheer for on Sunday.
CB.com: Is this something you ever thought you'd be doing 10 years ago?
Thomas: No, I didn't really have plans to do any of this until rather recently. It's something that just sort of morphed from the "Joe Thomas Hour," to doing funny and silly stuff to giving me the platform and opportunity to share some of my views and try to open up some of the guys on this team and show Browns fans the softer side of some players.
CB.com: Is it a veteran thing to find your voice, whether it be on Twitter or your overall personality?
Thomas: I think as a veteran, there's less stress involved with your job because there's a much greater level of comfort in everything you do. The level of preparation is probably the same but it's different in the fact you don't have as much studying of the X's and O's and your technique because you have a much greater mastery of it. You spend more time working on your body and trying to get that healthy and ready on Sundays. But it does leave opportunity for the veterans to sort of enjoy having fun with the media and having fun with different projects with Browns media. It's something I've really enjoyed.
CB.com: Do you have anyone in the media that's inspired you or modeled your craft after?
Thomas: Not really because I've never really gone about this with a goal in mind of, "I want to be in the media some day." It's been organic from the start. It's been one of those things where you let it grow and I'm not taking on anything I don't love. I don't get paid anything for doing any of this stuff. It's something I enjoy doing. I think it's a positive reflection on the Cleveland Browns. I think it really helps people in the building and I'm having fun with it. I think I can honestly say I won't ever do anything I don't enjoy and won't reflect positively on the Cleveland Browns. For me, it's been a win-win.
CB.com: It was an emotional time last year when the Browns got their first win. Do you think it will be the same this year?
Thomas: I think it will be much the same. It's hard to say what your reactions will be like when something happens in the future. There's a lot that goes into every week, every Sunday and every season. To finally get the payoff as a player or a coach, it can mean a lot. I don't know what that will look like. Hopefully this weekend we'll get a chance to see it.