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Joe Thomas encouraged by new Browns leadership after offseason of transition

Joe Thomas seemed to be in good spirits Wednesday in his first meeting with the local media since the end of the season.

The Pro Bowl and veteran left tackle said he's practicing every other day during OTAs since "there's only so many sand grains left in my hour glass, and we don't want to turn over the hourglass in the spring. We want to save those sand grains for the fall."

And like so many of his teammates, he's been encouraged by what he sees out of first-year coach Hue Jackson and a new coaching staff that's had Berea buzzing all offseason.

"I think there's an excitement with Hue right now in the building, I think a lot of guys are kind of drawn to his attitude, kind of how he approaches meetings, approaches practice," Thomas said. "Offensively speaking, it's kind of great having an offensive head coach because he's actually the one running the offense, he's in there right behind the huddle after plays barking things, barking orders, correcting guys, getting things lined up exactly the way he wants."

Thomas added: "I was always jealous of the guys in Cincinnati running Hue Jackson's offense because it's a very offensive-lineman friendly offense. A lot of quick throws, easy fade balls, a lot of different formations to spread the defense out, confuse them, get them into vanilla looks. Some uptempo stuff, smash mouth, he really wants to run the ball inside the tackles. The thing that appeals is we're going to make the defense guard every blade of grass on the whole field."

Thomas admitted it's been somewhat of a "tough transition" after the departures of fellow offensive linemen Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, who parted ways with the team during free agency. After all, Thomas had become close with the pair over the last several years.

The Browns took to the field as a part of the team's Organized Team Activities.

"I've been here with Alex for like seven years or about there, so it's tough when you lose a really good friend like that, a guy that you've been through a lot of hard times with and somebody who's probably one of my best friends. It was tough seeing him go. He's the best center in the NFL. I don't begrudge him for leaving but it was tough when he left," Thomas said.

"It was tough seeing Mitch go, another guy that I'd been around a long time, one of the top right tackles in football. So those are tough things, but in this business, that's just the way it goes and you have to roll with the punches and you've got to live with it."

Thomas also said he thought there was once a chance he could be traded as the Browns continue to reshape their roster with the addition of a bevy of young players.

"It wouldn't have surprised me if I had been traded," Thomas said, "but I'm happy that I didn't. It's kind of a happy ending."

Indeed, Thomas has been a fixture with the Browns and is a leader on an offense that's starting to come into form as Cleveland continues its offseason workouts.

The Browns, he said, are in good hands with Jackson at the helm. And that's something that has him recharged and ready to go following an offseason of changes.

"I think by the time that I got to meet Hue and talk with Sashi about the direction that they want things headed and see the assistant coaches that were being hired, those were the things that said I can get excited about this," Thomas said.

"Like I mentioned how jealous I was of the guys in CIncinnati being able to run Hue Jackson's offense, I think he brings a tremendous offensive mindset, a tremendous offensive playbook and I think he's a great leader. When you put those things on a team and it's only a matter of time that team turns into a winner.

"Since I got here, my goal has always been to turn the Browns into a winner consistently and I think he's just the man for it."

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