CLEVELAND -- One play can change the course of a season for professional athletes.
Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas felt he was well on his way to becoming an 11-time Pro Bowl player, but a torn triceps tendon in his left arm in Sunday’s 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium brought his 2017 season to a premature end.
“I felt like I was having one of the best seasons of my career,” Thomas said in a conference call with the Cleveland media Monday. “I felt like our offensive line was playing well and we were really jelling together. I was having a lot of fun. I didn't feel like I was losing any of my physical skills, that's for sure.
“I felt like I was playing at the top of my game. It was especially disappointing to get knocked out with an injury like that, especially the way I was feeling. I was feeling great physically, so that's tough to lose the rest of the season because of that for sure.”
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 writhing 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.
“As soon as it happened, I kind of knew what happened,” Thomas said. “I could feel the tendon detaching from my elbow, and it rolled up into my mid-triceps and I really had no function in that arm, and so, I kind of knew right away that I wasn’t going to be able to go back out there, even if I wanted to.”
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 is 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 the history of the National Football League.
“It's definitely surreal,” Thomas said. “Obviously, you don't ever expect to get injured, but as a football player, you always understand the realities of the violent sport that we play, that at any moment, it can be taken away from you and you could be sitting on the bench and rehabbing an injury.
“I think in the back of your mind, you're always prepared for it, but you're not always ready for it. So I think it's kind of been a whirlwind 24 hours here and I've mainly just kind of been focusing on what to do from a medical standpoint, from surgery, trying to get ready for my rehab, just kind of focusing on that, and I don't think everything's really set in just yet.”
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