By Tom Withers
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns’ iron man was forced from the field.
Joe Thomas, who has been the one thing Cleveland could count on during a decade of losing, missed the first play of his 11-year NFL career on Sunday with an injured left triceps.
The offensive tackle had been on the field for 10,363 consecutive snaps before he had to leave in the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans, holding his arm. It wasn’t immediately clear how Thomas got hurt. The 6-foot-6, 312-pound Thomas spent a few minutes being evaluated in the medical tent on the sideline before he jogged to the locker room.
When Thomas was down, several teammates knelt near him and coach Hue Jackson ran onto the field. Titans Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan went out and consoled Thomas as Cleveland’s crowd cheered one of the franchise’s best all-time players.
The No. 3 overall pick in 2007, Thomas had been virtually indestructible during his 11 seasons with Cleveland. He has played through numerous injuries and his consecutive snaps streak is believed to be the longest in league history. The NFL did not officially track snap counts until 1999.
The 32-year-old Thomas has also started 167 straight games. He’s made the Pro Bowl every season and is a virtual lock to make the Hall of Fame once he retires.
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