CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas took 10,363 consecutive snaps before that NFL-leading streak came to an end during the third quarter of Sunday’s 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Known for his durability and toughness between the lines, Thomas caught his teammates by surprise when he fell to the field writhing in pain after suffering a triceps injury to his left arm.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” quarterback Cody Kessler said. “I saw him down, and he was grabbing his elbow. I thought he was going to hop up. It is Joe. You think he is going to hop up and he is going to be alright.”
On first-and-10 from Tennessee’s 27-yard line, Browns running back Duke Johnson ran behind the left side of the offensive line for a three-yard gain. Thomas emerged from the pile holding his left arm and screaming in pain as he fell to the turf.
Tended to for several moments on the field, Thomas was helped to his feet and walked to the sidelines while talking with Browns medical personal.
“What this man has done in this league is someone that I look up to and is someone pretty much everyone in the NFL looks up to and has a great amount of respect for him,” Kessler said. “That was tough.
“I got choked up a little bit on the field when I saw him in pain on the ground and walking off. Just the reaction he got from the fans and everything was tough. I am going to be praying for him, and hopefully, we can get him back this year. If not, then hoping for a speedy recovery.”
In addition to processing his own emotions, Kessler had to regroup the entire offense in the middle of the drive, which he did successfully, as the Browns closed out the possession with a 47-yard field goal from rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez.
“I walked in the huddle, obviously, guys were excited and emotional in the sense of, ‘Hey, let’s do it for him. Let’s get up. Let’s do it for Joe,’” Kessler recalled. “I walked in and said, ‘I love you guys. Take a deep breath. We lost our brother, but he is going to be alright. We are going to win this for him.’
“At the end, unfortunately, we were not able to do that. When you have a guy like that who is someone you want to play for and whether he is on the field or not, a guy you want to play for and a guy that you have the most respect for. Like I said, we are praying for him, and we hope he comes back really fast.”
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