CLEVELAND -- Joe Thomas had visions of playing his entire career without missing a snap, but that dream was shattered Sunday when the All-Pro left tackle suffered a left triceps injury in the Cleveland Browns' 12-9 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Thomas was hurt with 5:21 to play in the third quarter. Teammates knelt and watched as trainers tended to him, thinking he would stand and walk back to the huddle as he always does. But not this time.
"It was just a routine play," Thomas said in the Browns' locker room. "I've done it a million times when you're going to block a guy. You're trying to get one last shove and I felt something unnatural in my arm."
Thomas played from the first snap in his first game as a rookie in 2007 and 10,362 consecutively after that. He has played through knee and ankle injuries, but could not bite his lip and make it through the arm injury.
"That one is really personal to me," Browns head coach Hue Jackson said. "He's a huge part of what we do, a huge part of this organization.
"We'll see where that is, but that was a big blow because obviously those things without him over there change how you have to call the game, try to protect and those types of things and they took advantage of that as we went."
Spencer Drango, a second-year player, took over after Thomas was forced to leave with 3:21 left in the third quarter. Thomas is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.
Thomas is universally respected across the NFL. Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan paused from answering questions about the Titans' victory.
"Our whole O-line was taken aback when we saw him go down," Lewan said. "We knew for one play or multiple plays, he was going to be out.
"I can't say enough good things about that guy. He's what you strive to be as an offensive lineman. To make 10 Pro Bowls is unheard of. To make 10,300-some consecutive snaps -- my heart really goes out to the guy. I appreciate his friendship. He's helped me with a couple things. He's a great dude."
The Browns will miss Thomas on the field for as long as he's out, but there is more to the situation than that.
The trade deadline is Oct. 31. This is the time of year that Thomas' name is always floated in trade rumors, but if the MRI shows he could be out for the rest of the season, the Browns won't be able to trade him even if they wanted to.