CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is headed back to Hawaii while kicker Phil Dawson will make his first ever trip.
Thomas heads to his 6th Pro Bowl in as many seasons while Dawson, who has been with the Browns since 1999, finally received recognition for being the model of consistency.
“I was happy that Phil and Joe were recognized for having Pro Bowl seasons,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Phil has been one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL throughout his career, and this year he was near-perfect, including many long-range field goals. I believe it is very appropriate that he is getting his due credit after 14 years in the league. Joe has established himself as one of the top left tackles in the game, and he has played at a very high level once again this year. He was a big part of the improvement that I felt we made as an offense.”
Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, center Alex Mack and Josh Cribbs were named first alternates to the AFC squad. Cribbs was named both as a returner and special teamer.
The week long vacation to Hawaii is becoming old hat for Thomas but this year he is excited to be able to share the week with Dawson.
“I’m really excited that Phil’s getting an opportunity to come with me because I think he’s been a guy that’s been deserving multiple times and to finally get his recognition, it really is awesome,” Thomas said. “He’s played as well as any kicker in the league for a number of years, and I think this is kind of the fruits of a lot of years of hard work for him.”
Dawson is the first Browns player to be selected to the Pro Bowl as a kicker and his 96.6 (28 of 29) field goal percentage this season leads the AFC. He is also 6 for 6 on field goals from 50 yards or longer, which is tied for the most in the AFC.
“I really don’t know what to feel,” Dawson said. “It’s been such a special season in a lot of ways. To have it culminate in this is pretty over the top. It’s going to take me some time to let it all sink in.
“I’m just very grateful that at least one time in my career I get to experience this.”
Thomas, who was selected by the Browns with the 3rd overall pick in the 2007 draft, hasn’t missed an offensive snap while playing in all 95 games since being drafted.
“I think I feel I’m getting better every year and my best is still yet to come,” Thomas said. “So I still feel like I’ve got more in the tank, and hopefully next year will be better than this year and I’ll keep growing that pattern. Every year my goal is to play better than I did the year before, and I definitely think that definitely happened this year.”
15 players have made it to the Pro Bowl in 6 straight seasons and 13 of them are in the Hall of Fame.
“It’s pretty humbling just to be mentioned in the same group with some of those other names that you hear, guys from different generations and many of them made the Hall of Fame,” Thomas said. “Certainly lots and lots of them had phenomenal careers and are guys that would be recognized all over the world whether you’re a football fan or not. To be part of that group, it’s pretty special and it’s pretty humbling just to think about it and just to sit back and look at some of those names.”
The Browns signed Thomas to an 8-year, $92 mil. contract, including $44 mil. guaranteed, in Aug. 2011.
Dawson, who was given the franchise tag in each of the last 2 years, is scheduled to become a free agent.