Joel Bitonio: The Cleveland Browns Are Ready To Win for Joe Thomas

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CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12: Joel Bitonio #75 of the Cleveland Browns lines up against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

On July 12th, 2017, players from the teams playing in the NFL International Series games assembled in London, England and participated in NFL UK’s Summer Bowl. A flag football tournament for British school kids, it gave Last Word on Pro Football a chance to catch up with some NFL players who’ll be taking part in 2017’s London games. Here we talk to Joel Bitonio on how the Browns are ready to win for Joe Thomas.

Joel Bitonio: The Cleveland Browns Are Ready To Win for Joe Thomas

The Browns Are Heading Upwards

It’s obvious that the Browns had a tough season last year. But a 1-15 record hasn’t dimmed Bitonio’s belief in the long-term direction of the team.

“100 percent we have the right coaching staff in place,” Bitonio emphasized. “We have brought in some really good draft picks and we’re starting to build something.”

You can feel Bitonio is energized by the youth of the team. Players like Myles Garrett, who as Bitonio says, “is a young draft pick who’s really impressive athletically and it will be exciting to see him on the field.”

Joe Thomas Is The Leader of the Group

However, it’s the team’s elder statesman that he’s really thinking of.

“Joe Thomas has been there for so long, and he deserves to win,” Bitonio noted. “He’s our patriarchal leader.”

Bitonio is ready to do whatever is necessary to win, although he’s clear where he prefers to do it. “Left guard,” he laughs when asked his favourite position, “I love playing next to Joe. He’s one of the best players to ever play the (left tackle) position.”

What About a London-Based Team?

Born and raised in California, Bitonio moved to Cleveland, a good five hour flight away, when he was drafted. Still, he sees the potential for future players to move even further. When asked about a London-based team, and what it would be like to be drafted to a different country, he smiles and says it’s an “exciting proposition. It’s a great city with the infrastructure to set something up in the future.”

Whatever future direction the International Series takes, it’s clear Bitonio is focused hard on the Cleveland Browns. They have a great staff in place, young players coming in, and a host of future draft picks. It’s easy to believe the Browns won’t be the NFL’s perennial basement dwellers for much longer.

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