Q and A: Joel Bitonio

joelBit_576_082214.jpg Now that you are officially the starting left guard for the Cleveland Browns, you can cross one of your rookie goals off your list. What's next on Joel Bitonio's list of goals?

Joel Bitonio: I think a big thing for me is to continue to improve. I don't want to hit the "rookie wall." I don't want to start the season off well, and then hit a slump. I have to continue to improve and try and make it so it's a seamless transition. I don't want other teams to be like, 'Let's go pick on the guard for the Browns because he's a rookie.' I want to be a good player. By the end of the year, hopefully I've improved from where I'm at today. Joel, I don't know how familiar you are with, but it's a respected football analytics website. They have you ranked as one of the top guards in the NFL during the preseason. What's working for you? Why are you one of the top-rated guards?

Joel Bitonio: I don't know about all that (laughs). I'm just trying to do the best I can do. Learning from Joe Thomas and Alex Mack and I absorb the coaching. I think I've been pretty solid on my assignments and those types of things. So that helps. I'm trying to get better with my technique every time. I don't know how much knows our scheme (laughs). I'm just trying to improve my technique every play, and get better in that sense. Besides speed of the game, besides learning new blocking techniques, what's been the biggest adjustment for you so far?

Joel Bitonio: Just improving on the continuity of the offensive line. There's a lot of double teams so we have to improve communication. For me personally, I'm working a lot on my hand placement in pass protection. I have to keep working to get my hands inside and things like that. Brian Hoyer is now the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns and will start Week One against Pittsburgh. What's an example of Brian's leadership style? Whether it's in the huddle or the locker room, what's something Brian has done that you've noticed?

Joel Bitonio: He's here all the time. I can't come to the facility and Brian not be here. On an off day, Brian is still here all the time. He's always talking to everyone. He's asking how you are doing. He's being a friendly, good leader. And that's big. It sounds as if you will be playing at least two quarters against one of the best defensive lines in the St. Louis Rams. Robert Quinn and Chris Long can get after the quarterback. Is this the best unit in the NFL?

Joel Bitonio: They are great all across the board. And they drafted another good young guy in Aaron Donald. As an offensive line, we are just trying to work on our technique. We don't have a bunch of time to game plan against these guys in the preseason, so we're just going to try and work on our offense – our outside zone, our inside zone and our technique. Hopefully, that'll be enough to make some holes out there.

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