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Joel Bitonio thankful for Pro Bowl accolade: 'Now, I just want to get a win'

Browns left guard Joel Bitonio shrugged off being named a Pro Bowl alternate and offered to exchange it for a win or two.

It was the kind of respond you'd come to expect from someone like Bitonio, who has been a steadying force inside the team's young locker room. The fourth-year offensive lineman has stepped up as a leader both on and off the field as Cleveland continues searching for its first win late into the season.

To be certain, Bitonio — who joined second-year linebacker Joe Schobert as an alternate Tuesday night — took pride in the honor after back-to-back seasons cut short by injuries. He missed most of 2016 because of a foot injury after an ankle injury forced him to miss six games the year before.

"For me, not being able to play the last couple of years and to finish the seasons off, to come back and so far have a healthy season and get recognized is a pretty cool honor," he said. "At this time last year, I don't think I was even walking yet. To come back and to do that, I was pretty pumped about it. Now, I just want to get a win to end the season off."

Bitonio has started all 14 games this season and been a focal point on an offensive line that lost Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas to a season-ending triceps injury in October.

"He has been outstanding. He has had a really, really solid year," coach Hue Jackson said. "I'm going to say it again, until we start winning will these guys really get recognized for what I truly think they are because we have some guys that are really good football players."

Bitonio, of course, is one of them. After missing so much time the past two seasons, he said he used Tuesday's honor to reflect.

"I was talking to my wife last night, I'm just thankful I got to play football again and be healthy and be out there with my guys," he said, "because you never know when something can be taken away."

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