He might not remember it like it was yesterday, but in the back of Joe Thomas' mind, he has be wanting a little bit of vengeance this Sunday when he has the responsibility of battling with defensive end Dwight Freeney for most of the game. Those two guys went head-to-head when the Browns faced the Colts during the 2008 season, and Thomas was partially to blame for the play that resulted in the Colts coming out on top. With Cleveland leading 6-3 in the fourth quarter, Freeney bullrushed Thomas into quarterback Derek Anderson and then stripped the former Browns quarterback of the football. Fellow defensive end Robert Mathis scooped the ball up for the go-ahead touchdown.
In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Freeney gave Thomas his props, but noted that he gets extra excited when he knows he'll be facing less double- and triple-teams. "Joe's a great tackle. I think he's one of the elite tackles in the league, so he's obviously going to be a challenge," said Freeney. "Now I'm not sure it's going to be like it was back in the day, like mano-a-mano, just one-on-one."
Thomas, likewise, had praise for Freeney's abilities. "It's funny because he is kind of known for the spin and for his speed but he's one of the strongest players in the league," Thomas said Wednesday. "You see him picking up 335-pound tackles and throwing them and getting to the quarterback."
Thomas is also one of the players who wants Cleveland to earn a victory for new head coach Pat Shurmur. After last week's lost, he sent the following text message to Yahoo Sports' Michael Silver: "I love the guy. That's why I am so pissed we lost cause I want to win so bad for him"
With the Browns' offensive line in pieces, Thomas will be depended upon to step up his game. There's no doubt he's the elite tackle in the NFL, but just like last time, he can't even slip up once against Freeney is the Browns are going to control the game.