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Joe Thomas' improbable snap streak comes to end with triceps injury

On his 10,363rd consecutive offensive play, Joe Thomas did what he always did. He took on his man when the ball was snapped and blocked until the whistle blew.

The end was something he'd never experienced in 11 NFL seasons.

Thomas crumpled to the turf during a Browns drive midway through Sunday's third quarter. Pain seared through his left arm. He couldn't move it.

"Just a routine run play," Thomas said. "I've done it a million times where you're just blocking a guy and you go to finish him and give one last shove, one last push. I felt something unnatural in my arm."

Thomas was diagnosed with an injury to his left triceps. He watched the remainder of Cleveland's 12-9 overtime loss from the training room inside the Browns locker room. He talked with owner Jimmy Haslam and others before departing with his arm in a sling.

Thomas will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.

Thomas knew the streak would end at some point, and he figured some kind of injury would be the reason. He never considered something like a triceps injury as what would put an end to one of the most impressive streaks in NFL history.

"I'm definitely proud of the number of the plays I was able to put together, getting over that 10,000 milestone and going into my 11th season without missing a play is something I always feel like I'll be able to hang my hat on and have pride in," Thomas said. "It's a violent game. Those types of streaks are always going to come to an end."

The Browns play the Tennessee Titans in Week 7.

Thomas called his time on the turf, with trainers surrounding him, an "out-of-body experience." The realization that the streak was over had hit him.

Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan ran onto the field to pat Thomas on the back as he walked off with trainers. Thomas didn't realize it at the time but thanked Lewan on Twitter after the game.

"I think I was enough of a realist to understand that I was not going to be able to continue on forever without missing a play. It was just matter of time," Thomas said. "Unfortunately, it happened in Week 7 when I wish I could have been out there to help my teammates, but it is football. Those things happen.

"It wasn't an infinity streak. There certainly was going to be a time where either because of injury or lack of production that it was going to end."

It definitely wasn't the latter.

Thomas was playing at the same kind of level that made him a 10-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer. At 32, he is, by far, the most experienced member of one of the NFL's youngest offenses.

Left guard Joel Bitonio, who has worked next to Thomas since 2014, said earlier this week the specialness of sharing the field with Thomas hasn't gone away. After Sunday's game, he called Thomas the best player on Cleveland's roster.

"I kind of thought he was super human or something where nothing could happen to him," Bitonio said. "There were about 30 seconds there you kind of almost wanted to tear up. It was surreal, but we had to go back and finish the game."

Versatile reserve Spencer Drango filled in for Thomas the rest of the way. It's unclear if that will continue during Thomas' absence. Right tackle Shon Coleman played on the left side throughout his college career and worked as the first-team left tackle throughout the preseason whenever Thomas rested.

On Sunday, when it came to Thomas, discussion of the future was briefly put to the side.

"I promised him that when he is back, if he is back, that we are going to get this thing figured out because he is Cleveland Browns football," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "He is a guy that keeps us all going and moving forward. We owe him more than what we have given him thus far."

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