CLEVELAND -- For the first time in 11 years, the Cleveland Browns had someone not named Joe Thomas protecting the quarterback’s blindside at left tackle.
Second-year offensive lineman Spencer Drango took Thomas’ place against the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium in London after the 10-time Pro Bowl player had season-ending surgery to repair a torn triceps tendon suffered in a 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans two weeks ago.
And by all accounts, Drango made a solid account of himself in the 33-16 loss while working against one of the best pass rushers in the National Football League, Everson Griffen.
“I thought Spencer Drango hung in there tough,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “We did some things on that side to help out, but I thought he battled hard. I think this team has given me everything I’ve asked. They’re playing hard. They’re doing everything. We’re just coming up short. That’s just where we are. We’ll keep going from there.”
Last December, Thomas was selected to his 10th Pro Bowl, and went 10 for 10 in all-star game nods since entering the league via the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft out of the University of Wisconsin. Thomas was the first Browns player ever selected to participate in 10 Pro Bowls.
Prior to the injury, Thomas played 10,363 consecutive snaps, which is believed to be the longest such streak in NFL history.
“His presence is very large, and obviously, coming over here and going through everything that we went through, it would’ve been very nice to have a leader, a guy who’s proven that he’s one of, if not the best guy in this league,” rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer said.
“So, not having him, we definitely have to make proper adjustments to, and I think we did very well with that.”
Drango allowed just one sack to Griffen out of the 37 times Kizer dropped back to pass against the Vikings, and the rookie very much appreciated the support.
“Spencer Drango played his butt off,” Kizer said. “My blindside was completely kept throughout the whole game, and it’s just about doing whatever we can now to take his leadership once (Thomas) can get back in the locker room and take it for what it is and do whatever we can to make the proper adjustments.”
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