I can’t say that I have a problem with Adrian Peterson winning The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Setting the single-game rushing record with 296 yards is an outstanding accomplishment in itself, no matter who the player is. However, a rookie like Peterson setting that mark pretty much solidified him winning the award a long time ago. But enough about him.
Guess who was the only other player to receive votes? That’s right (as if the title didn’t already give it away) – Joe Thomas. The Browns’ rookie left tackle had an outstanding year, and it shows that the national media also took note of that. While he only received 3 1/2 votes out of a possible 50, it remains a solid accomplishment to even be recognized, especially as an offensive lineman.
This may seem like a bittersweet moment, considering Thomas lost the award by 43 votes, but that’s not the point. The point remains that Thomas is just one of the many young players on the Browns with potential to become stars in the NFL (or at least as much a star as an offensive lineman can be outside of Cleveland). Just as in baseball, a football team needs its core group of mainstays with a wealth of talent and leadership, and it looks like Thomas is quickly developing into one of those. It also doesn’t hurt to spend your first season situated next to Eric Steinbach.
The stability that Joe Thomas helps bring to the offensive line is particularly important, because it solidifies the Browns as a force to be reckoned with offensively. And being a prolific scoring team two years in a row gives the Browns something they truly have not had since their return in 1999 – an identity.