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Joe Thomas working to overcome rare early season struggles, knee injury not an issue

The Cleveland Browns have had few constants in recent years, but ever since Joe Thomas was made the team's franchise left tackle as the third overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, consistent play at that position has been one of them. Thomas is a five-time Pro Bowler and has rarely been credited with giving up a sack, let alone giving up big pressure. But through four weeks of action in 2012, Thomas has looked rather human.

Of course, that's a statement that might be fine for most. For Thomas, he's been drawing a lot of criticism. Some have questioned whether or not he's still banged up after wearing a brace on his left knee, a wrap on his right one, and a stint on the team's injury report. According to Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, the knee is not an issue, via head coach Pat Shurmur.

Regardless, Thomas will need to step up his game heading into Sunday's game against the New York Giants. The Browns continue to find themselves in close games despite being huge underdogs, and against the strong New York defensive line, making mistakes at the premium left tackle position could be a game-changer. Still, it's not as though the Browns have been doing terribly in that regard - they rank 11th in the NFL - it's just that Thomas himself is rarely the culprit for pressure given up.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.