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Friday, August 1, 2008
Five questions with Joe Thomas

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
 
 Diamond Images/Getty Images
 Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas allowed just one sack in his rookie season.

The AFC North version of the Blog Network caught up with Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas to discuss, among other things, which defenses give him the most trouble and why so many Browns enjoy fishing.

1. Joe, which team has the toughest defense?

Joe Thomas: Baltimore, they have the best personnel in the NFL on defense, no question. You just look at all the guys that made the Pro Bowl. It's sick how many great players they have. They probably have three of four guys that are going to the Hall of Fame, so they're unbelievable. And Pittsburgh is tough. The rivalry adds to it a little bit but their motto is just to hit you in the mouth. Every play is a fistfight in the back lot. It's just full-on collisions every play.

2. Who has the better TV show: Joe Thomas or Joshua Cribbs?

JT: (Smiles) Well...mine, obviously. That's an easy one. It's because the host is better.

3. Word around camp is you caught a 48-inch fish recently.

JT: Yeah, that was the biggest I've ever seen. This was actually a week before training camp. It was a super hot, calm day. We went down to the West Branch Reservoir near Kent, Ohio. We met up with a local guy down there. I hooked it, netted it in and it was unbelievable.

4. Did you eat it?

JT: Nah, we put it back in the water. We took some pictures and then released it. With those big ones, you want to let them grow and breed more fish for the next time. Now he's probably 50 inches and he's got kids that are 40 inches.

5. Several players on your team fish. What is it about fishing that draws you and your teammates in?

JT: I think it's kind of a release from your normal, day-to-day things. It gives you a chance to relax and get your mind off the game of football, because you need that. You need that in order to keep your sanity. You can't think about football 24 hours a day for 365 days. There is just something that's relaxing about being out on a boat on a lake.

(Writer's disclaimer: OK, so Thomas and I couldn't stop talking. We hope you don't mind).

6. Looking at the stats, you gave up one sack last year. What in the world happened? Do you still have nightmares about that one play?

JT: (Laughs) It was in the snow game against Buffalo, and me and Eric (Steinbach) got caught twisting and it was just poor technique. I guess I don't really have nightmares about that one, because it was so slippery and snowy that our technique just went out the window. That was probably a bad thing.

7. Who was the player?

JT: It was actually Aaron Schobel, so I don't feel too bad. He's a great defensive end and he made it to the Pro Bowl. But it's always something that you think about.

8. How can you get better in your second year?

JT: You can always get better. Even the great ones like Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden, they can do something better. My coach told me in the offseason that he wants me to get 10-15 percent better. Everything you did poorly -- run or pass technique-wise or mental errors of blocking the wrong guy -- those are the corrections that you need to make if you want to make that improvement.

9. Who do you feel is the NFL's best left tackle?

JT: Still playing? Walter Jones. The thing about Walter, like all great players, he just makes it look easy. He's so smooth and effortless. He's so big, so strong and so quick. That's what makes a great lineman. If you try to go around him, he's too quick and too fast. If you try to run him over and you just don't get through because he's so strong. Not only that but he uses great technique. He's a great player for a lot of young guys to watch. He's as close to flawless as there is out there.