CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Browns lost far more than just one game at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday afternoon.
During the third quarter of their 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans (4-3), the Browns (0-7) watched 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas exit the game because of an injured left triceps, which brought to an end a consecutive snaps streak at 10,363.
“It is heartbreaking,” quarterback DeShone Kizer said. “A guy who has done everything right, consistently for years and years and years, and to see him go down, it hurts.
“He is the cornerstone of this organization and of this team. We are going to continue to rely on him to be a leader for us. Most importantly, we are going to do whatever can as an organization and as his teammates to help him as he continues to develop and get us back out there.”
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.
“Kind of unbelievable,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “The four years I have been here, I kind of thought he was super human or something where nothing could happen to him just how consistent and anytime he ever got rolled up or something, he would always pop back up.
“You knew he was in pain the way he sounded out there. It was tough. There were about 30 seconds there you kind of almost wanted to tear up. It was surreal, but we had to go back out there and finish the game. We were hoping we would get a win for him, but we didn’t pull it out. It is just frustrating. It is tough. A guy like that, he has given so much to the city, to the team and to his teammates, and it is rough.”
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.
“I didn’t believe it really,” tight end Randall Telfer said. “Part of me thought that it wasn’t even Joe Thomas. I thought it was someone else. When I saw him going over, it was kind of like a blow to the gut.”
The Browns will find out more about Thomas’ status moving forward after he undergoes an MRI Monday, but regardless of what the tests reveal, they have to get ready for next week’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium in London.
“To see a guy that goes 10-plus seasons of consecutive snaps, just playing 10 years in the NFL is tough to do, but to play without being severely injured and play every snap is honestly a miracle in its own self,” Bitonio said.
“It is a credit to him how he works and puts in that time. It is going to be tough to move on from, and he has all our support right now.”
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