BEREA — When you’re the best left tackle in the NFL you can bet there will be a demand for you.
Joe Thomas has played four years and been to the Pro Bowl every year. In many regards, Thomas is considered to be the best tackle in the game.
Thomas (6-foot-6, 312 pounds) has not missed a start in his four seasons, starting all 64 games he has played.
Thomas, 26, and the Browns agreed to a seven-year contract extension worth an estimated $84 million, with reportedly as much as $40 million guaranteed.
He was in the final year of his original contract and he said he thought about testing free agency, but when Pat Shurmur became coach, he decided this is where he wanted to spend the remainder of his career.
“Once Coach Shurmur got in here, I was willing to talk about the extension,” Thomas said. “Being on a winning team is extremely important to me.
“What I’ve seen the last couple of years is exciting to see where the franchise is heading. That is why I wanted to continue on my journey here. The types of players that Tom Heckert has brought in and the more the team improves, I wanted to sign the extension and stay here.”
Thomas admitted there was a time when he didn’t know if he wanted to spend the majority of his career with the Browns.
“Maybe, a couple of years ago,” he said. “But, it’s all about winning and why I wanted to stay. I feel this is going to be a great franchise and I don’t want to go anywhere else.”
Shurmur is ecstatic to know that one of the big pieces of the offense is in place for years to come.
“I think it’s terrific for the Cleveland Browns and the city of Cleveland,” Shurmur said. “He’s proven to be durable. He’s at every practice and every game.
“He’s a premier offensive lineman at a premier position protecting the quarterback. He can pass protect, run block. He’s a consistent, steady guy."
Thomas has not only been a captain, but his style of leadership is to lead by example.
“There’s a trickle-down effect,” Shurmur said. “As a coach you can point to him and say ‘See how he does it’.
His fellow players appreciate Thomas.
“(Joe) is the ultimate professional,” tight end Evan Moore said. “He’s so consistent in everything he does. He’s a steady presence.”
Thomas said he likes to have an offensive minded coach in the meetings.
“It’s exciting to have only been here four weeks and see the improvement of the offense with Colt (McCoy) and the other guys,” Thomas said. “We have a really aggressive, offensive minded coach.
“To have (McCoy) in the offensive room with us in game planning is awesome.”
Aggressive in Red Zone: The Browns seemed to be much more aggressive inside the 20 as opposed to recent years. It helps to have a 6-6 tight end in Evan Moore, who has shown he can go up and get the ball.
“He is such a big target,” Shurmur said. “I assume we’ll throw him the ball.
“There’s no question in the red zone, he has had advantage because of his ability to go up and catch the ball.”
Moore will be more than happy if the Browns continue to use him near the goal line.
“We should be (aggressive),” Moore said. “We can use our bodies to our advantage.”
Moore was back practicing Tuesday and made a great catch in the end zone as he tipped the ball with his left hand and caught it with his right hand over a smaller defensive back. He said his concussion was minor and he was held out more as a precaution.
Hillis Slowed: RB Peyton Hillis sat out practice with a sore back.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Shurmur said.
Shurmur was asked if he thought Hillis would play against the Eagles.
“I’m assuming he will.”
Injury Update: The following did not practice Tuesday: LB Chris Gocong (stinger), DB Usama Young (hamstring), DB T.J. Ward (mouth), WR Carlton Mitchell (finger), OL Eric Steinbach (back), RB Peyton Hillis (back), RB Brandon Jackson (toe)and WR Josh Cribbs (hamstring).
That’s a Wrap: The Browns concluded the training camp portion of the preseason with Tuesday’s morning practice. It was the last practice open to the public.
“It was the last opportunity for the fans to watch practice,” Shurmur said. “The players appreciate the fans and coming out to the practices. It’s always fun when people watch what you do.”