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Always there: Joe Thomas nears 'insane' milestone of 10,000

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Head Ninja
Head Ninja

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:29 am    Post subject: Always there: Joe Thomas nears 'insane' milestone of 10,000 Reply with quote

But if he lasts just four plays in Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens (note: jinxes begone), he'll hit a consecutive snaps milestone that the Cleveland Browns say is unprecedented.
Thomas' fourth snap will be his 10,000th straight play on offense. The standout Browns left tackle has not missed a play since he was the third overall pick in the 2007 draft. Through losing and quarterback changes and more losing and more quarterback changes, Thomas has been the Browns' Gibraltar -- immense, solid and always there.
"I will now hold my breath 10,000 times," his wife, Annie, said this week.
In its essence, what Thomas has done is show up every day for work. Through sore throats, bad days, bad knees, headaches, not feeling well or not feeling into it, Thomas has come to work and done his job and done it well. He is recognized and respected, as Cal Ripken Jr. was when he set baseball's consecutive-games streak: Thomas works every day, and he works at a high level. As he said Thursday: "I guess I'm just a guy that tries to show up and do his job every day."
"It's still insane to me that after all of these years he's never missed a snap," Annie Thomas said. "It's just a testament to the man he is: reliable, dedicated, and mentally and physically tough."
She puts it as well as anyone, probably because she knows him as well as anyone. But this week a variety of other people who know Thomas spoke about his career, which has seen him go to the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons while playing for a team that has had one winning season and gone 48-113 since he was drafted. Teammates, former teammates, coaches, former coaches … all used the same superlatives. But when some of the greats of the game heard of the upcoming 10,000th snap, they were stopped cold.
"Damn," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "That is legit. That is pretty amazing, especially in this league. It is a physical league for his position. That is a pretty awesome milestone, accomplishment."
"At tackle ... that is unbelievable," New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said.
"It's incredible," New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "For him to do it, he's obviously had a lot of regimes and he's been such a remarkable player. A consistent elite performer. He's been to so many Pro Bowls, came out really highly touted, and he's just played at a Pro Bowl level almost every single year. That's a tough position to play all those snaps. But he does it. It's really a credit to him."
One man provided the exception to the thinking: Arizona Cardinals tight ends coach Steve Heiden, who was a teammate of Thomas when he was a rookie.
"It doesn't surprise me at all; I think he was probably the most prepared player I've seen come in as a rookie," Heiden said.
LeCharles Bentley, the former Browns and Saints center, called Thomas "a football unicorn." (Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, the Browns' starter, used the same word.)
Bentley knows offensive linemen. He runs an academy in Phoenix where he scouts and trains and develops them. At one point Bentley was headed toward being Thomas' teammate, but he ruptured his patella tendon on the first day of training camp in 2006. The injury showed the vagaries of NFL life, and what Thomas has avoided.
Bentley said there's nobody like Thomas and it's unfair to compare him to other tackles because Thomas does things no other tackle can do. He's not the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but he might be the smartest and wisest. He plays angles and tendencies, using preparation and smarts along with athletic ability.
Thomas talked a few years ago about always knowing the opposing player's signature move. He said at a key point in the game, the opponent will go to that move, and if Thomas is prepared he can stop it. Against Dwight Freeney, Thomas always knew the spin move would arise on a key play.
Last season against San Diego, Thomas faced rookie Joey Bosa, who was a bit of a sensation. Bosa likes to drive upfield and then reverse to Rocky Bleier Youth Jersey get the tackle off balance. When he tried it against Thomas, the veteran was waiting for Bosa like it was a receiving line.
"Joe has reached an all-time level of amazing that's yet to be identified," Bentley said.
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