Joe Thomas says decision about future will come down to his overall health

Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Basketball

BEREA, Ohio -- Browns 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas received some advice from former NFL center Kevin Mawae about recovering from the season-ending torn triceps tendon he suffered Oct. 22 against the Tennessee Titans.

Mawae, an eight-time Pro Bowler who suffered two torn triceps tendons during his career, sent Thomas a direct message on Twitter.

"Basically the two things (Mawae told me) were, 'You can come back from this,' and, 'Just take it slow,'?" Thomas said Thursday.

The ability of Thomas to recover from the serious injury to his left arm -- and his overall health after 11 seasons in the league -- will be the most important factors the future hall of famer will consider when he decides after this season whether to attempt a comeback or retire.

Thomas reiterated he'll ask himself if he's still able to play at a high level, if he's healthy enough and if he still loves the game as he figures out his future.

"I definitely still love the game, and I'm not ready to walk away from it healthy, per se," Thomas said. "But, to me, when I look at the three factors -- are you playing well, are you healthy and do you love it? -- I feel like I was playing well, and I still loved it. And the question it's going to come down to is am I feeling like, from a personal health standpoint, is it something that I can do for another year?"

Thomas, 32, wasn't just referring to how well his triceps recovers, either.

"I've obviously had a lot of knee issues over the years and stuff that's not fixable at this point with modern medicine," Thomas said. "... Obviously, the whole body will come into play when you make that decision."

Thomas admitted the state of the Browns could be another factor.

"If I want to come back, if I can come back, is it going to be for trying to pursue a championship or are we trying to pursue a playoff berth or are we trying to pursue a first pick overall?" Thomas said. "Those are all things that could play into that decision."

As much as Thomas appreciates the Browns giving him a $3 million raise last week -- $1.5 million this season and $1.5 next season on the final year of his contract -- he made it clear the increased salary probably won't weigh into his decision.

Thomas is wearing a huge brace on his left arm to limit his range of motion, allowing the surgically reattached tendon to heal.

The way Thomas described the injury, he likely had a partially torn triceps tendon before it ruptured and forced his legendary consecutive snaps streak to end at 10,363 plays.

"Every time I hit that arm, I just had a terrible sensation up the back of my arm like your funny bone got hit, and it's just a burning pain and I was telling (left guard) Joel (Bitonio), just complaining to him, like, 'Man, my elbow hurts so much, I can't even really push on it. Like I'm basically playing with one arm,'?" Thomas said.

"Then, of course, when it happened, it was almost like a relief because I was in so much pain, and it was so hard to try to function with that arm that it was like, 'Oh, I'm glad we finally figured out what this was.'?"

So now Thomas is helping coach the offensive linemen and some other players, notably rookie defensive end Myles Garrett.

"He's doing a lot more helping the young guys -- film study and stuff," Bitonio said. "He has a lot more free time to do that, and I think he is actually helping Myles, as well, trying to teach him what to look for in tackles in the film room.

"It's why he's the best. He's given so much to the city, this team. You would not expect it any other way. It was weird when he wasn't in meetings, recovering after surgery. I kind of felt lost without him for a little bit, but he's been back in there and he's been helping out."

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