After ankle injuries cut his season short, Browns left guard Joel Bitonio said he's finally healthy as Cleveland dives into its offseason training program.
"I worked out all offseason on it, came back and have had pretty good workouts the last few days," Bitonio said Tuesday on Cleveland Browns Daily, adding he stayed near Berea for a few weeks after the season to heal the damage. "It's felt great, I'm ready to go."
Bitonio, who's entering his third season with the Browns, started 10 games last year before being placed on injured reserve in early December after a loss to the Bengals. The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder first missed two games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore and returned against the Bengals, only to re-aggravate the injury in the first quarter.
"It was disappointing. I wanted to be there for the team no matter what the record is," Bitonio said. "I wanted to go out there and compete and show the team that I'm behind them and be out there with guys like (left tackle) Joe (Thomas) and (right guard) John (Greco).
Bitonio continued, "It was tough not being out there but it was a learning experience for me and you just never know when it can be taken away so it's kind of a good mentality for me and I'm ready to go out there and prove my worth again."
Named to NFL.com All-Under-25 Team last month, Bitonio is a key cog on an offensive line tasked with replacing starters Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz, both of whom left the team in free agency.
Bitonio, who played tackle in college at Nevada, said he's open to "what the team needs" if asked to switch positions next season.
"I played tackle in college, but I've gotten comfortable at left guard. I love playing next to a guy like Joe Thomas and I feel like I can help a center in there and help him learn, whoever we decide to put in there," he said.
"But if they need someone to go out to tackle or bump around a little bit, I'm open for it, man. Whatever this team needs, I'm ready to help them out. Let's just get the best five guys on the field and help them out."
The Long Beach native said he spent his offseason in Southern California working out, hitting up the beach, playing basketball with his younger brother and planning for a summer wedding alongside his fiancee.
"It was awesome, man, really refreshing," Bitonio said, "but when you get a new coaching staff and new people and they're doing great things with the facility, you want to be back here. I had enough time to relax and now I'm ready to work. The first couple of days of workouts have been really awesome, I think we're going in a good direction."