GREEN BAY — At 3-3, the Browns have become a team to watch. With a win on Sunday at Lambeau Field, the Browns would become a legitimate playoff contender.
It's been a long time coming for star left tackle Joe Thomas, who is playing for his fourth coach in Cleveland since leaving Wisconsin as the third overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft. The Browns have posted a dismal 23-57 record in the five seasons previous to this year, and haven't been a playoff contender since Thomas' rookie season.
"With a .500 record right here, this is not something that myself as a Brown has been involved with too often. It's fun being relevant. The season is obviously still extremely young. We have a lot of games to go, but it's fun to be part of a team that's relevant and keeping every game close," Thomas told Packers media on Wednesday.
Thomas will be in the lineup on Sunday when the Browns face the Packers. The Browns scored a 26-24 win at Lambeau Field in 2005, which was a dismal season for both teams.
"It's very special when you get to come back, and it's special for everybody on this team because Lambeau Field is such a legendary place to play. There are so many greats that made this game special that have played there. You get to kind of walk in their tracks. Me being from Wisconsin, it obviously means even more because I grew up a Packer fan," Thomas said.
Rookie Head Coach Rob Chudzinski is resurrecting hope in Cleveland. There's a buzz for the team and it'll be tested by a daunting midseason stretch of schedule that'll include trips to Kansas City and Cincinnati that sandwich a game at home against Baltimore.
The Browns win with defense: No. 7 in the league overall, No. 7 against the run and No. 8 against the pass. It's on offense that the Browns have struggled: No. 24 overall, No. 22 rushing and No. 17 passing.
Chudzinski confirmed that second-year man Brandon Weeden will start at quarterback. He's thrown four touchdown passes and five interceptions and will take a 71.4 passer rating into this game.
In a shocking move, the Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Colts a few weeks ago. The trade brought the Browns a first-round pick, which it's believed the Browns will use to position themselves to draft a quarterback next spring. It's a pick that will likely define the franchise's future.
"I think we're well on our way. I think we've put together some great pieces this offseason. The new coaches that they brought in are outstanding, they have new ownership, new front office, brought in some key free agents and building with some studs in the draft. I think we're building all the pieces we need right now," Thomas said.
"Certainly, the fans are excited. Coach Chudzinski, the players really love playing for him. There's a lot of excitement around the things that Coach Chud is doing, and when you put a few wins on the field, that just reinforces it." Additional coverage - Oct. 16