Cleveland Browns rookie offensive guard Joel Bitonio continues to work with the first-team offense at left guard during OTA sessions. The team's second round pick was a guest on SiriusXM Radio the other day. Former Browns GM Phil Savage, who was one of the interviewers, came away impressed:
Exceptional interview w/ @Browns OL Joel Bitonio @SiriusXMNFL Blitz. Great perspective on the "grind" of transitioning from college to NFL.— Phil Savage (@SeniorBowlPhil) May 29, 2014
Bitonio is moving from LT at Nevada-Reno to LG w/ @Browns. Nice situation for a rookie to play between Joe Thomas and Alex Mack.— Phil Savage (@SeniorBowlPhil) May 29, 2014
On Friday, Bitonio was a guest on Cleveland Browns Daily with hosts Nathan Zegura and Vic Carucci. The full interview can be heard here, as Bitonio comes off as a very relaxed, guy-you'd-like-to-hang-out-with type of person. I transcribed portions of the interview below related to his transition to left guard, and his experiences with QB Johnny Manziel so far:
Zegura: "Joel, you played a lot of tackle in college. So far, you've done some guard here in the early going. How's that transition been for you?"
Bitonio: "It's been good. I didn't really know for sure, depending on what team I went to, where they would play me. Once I got here, I kind of figured I was going to be moved inside. It's been a good experience. Things happen a little quicker inside, you're not as defensive. In pass protection, you're a little bit more aggressive."
Zegura: "Does that suit you though? Do you like that?"
Bitonio: "Yeah, I like it a lot. I'm not really backpedaling as much and things like that. I get to be a little more aggressive. There's some bigger guys in there, but I'm getting used to it."
Zegura: "You've seen a lot of time on the left side -- some on the right, but mostly on the left, in between Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. How's it like being between two Pro Bowlers, and are then sharing some wisdom with you?"
Bitonio: "It kind of puts you in a speechless state, honestly -- I mean, you're a rookie coming into the league and it's like, 'Take some reps between Alex Mack and Joe Thomas, two Pro Bowlers' and I'm like, 'Ok!' That helps out a lot. Alex knows what he's doing and he's in control of the offense. Joe's just a steady player; you don't really see Joe mess up. He's just steady, he gets his job done, and he gets it done well. When I'm in a double team with Joe Thomas or in a double team with Alex Mack, it really makes it a lot easier for me. In that sense, I've just got to concentrate on my footwork, being aggressive, and just knowing my assignment instead of having to know what defense I'm going against and things like that. "
Zegura: "Are you going to be going with Johnny the next time he goes to Vegas? Does Joel Bitonio pop bottles and have champaigne showers?"
Bitonio: "I don't really pop bottles. Where I'm from in California, we have Lake Tahoe up there, and we have some casinos up there. I've found myself on the blackjack table a few times. I don't know if I'll be in Vegas with Johnny any time soon (laughing)."
Zegura: "We need to protect him out there!"
Bitonio: "(laughing) If he wants me to go, I'll join him -- do a little bodyguard action."
Carruci: "What's the perspective on that, though? We've asked some veteran guys, 'OK, here comes the guy with all this cache and really the reputation that preceeds him into the facility. What is your take on him and how's the interaction been with him?"
Bitonio: "It's been good. Actually, me and him are roommates at the hotel right now, so I've gotten a little in-depth (in knowing him). We talk every night, we say how practice is going, we watch the NBA playoffs together, stuff like that. The first time he walks into the hotel room, I'm like, 'Man, that's Johnny Manziel.' I've never met him before. I'd seen him on ESPN and stuff, so at first you're a little star-struck -- at least I was.
But the way the coaches treat him and the way the veterans treat him, is like he's just another guy. And he acts like he's just another guy too -- he works with us, he lifts with us, he takes the van back to the hotel with us. It's not like he has all this stardom with him; he's just one of the other guys. He's a quarterback, so quarterbacks are always a little bit different than every other position. He automatically gets kind of that leadership role, just because he is a quarterback and the quarterback needs to lead the team. Besides that, he's just been a normal guy, working hard. He's easy to talk to -- we've been to Chipotle together, we've been everywhere together."
Zegura: "That's the spot for the Cleveland Browns rookies -- Chipotle!"
Bitonio: "It's the only one that's really in walking distance."
Zegura: "How many meats do you go? I'm not a big guy, but I've been known to go quad-meat. I can only imagine what you do in there."
Bitonio: "That's impressive. I usually go chicken stake, so double meat. I usually double up the rice, double up the meat, double up everything -- get a couple or tortillas on the side. I can't go quad or else I'll end up weighing 350 (lbs), and I need to be quick still."