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Practice Report 10/23: Matchup of Elites with Quinn, Thomas

Posted Oct 23, 2015

Sunday's contest will have two of the league's best squaring off in Browns LT Joe Thomas and Rams DE Robert Quinn.

With the Browns coming to town for Sunday’s contest, there are plenty of interesting matchups across the board. But one that provides a certain amount of intrigue will pit one of the league’s best left tackles against one of its best defensive ends.

St. Louis’ Robert Quinn and Cleveland’s Joe Thomas have been thought of as elite players for a number of years, and it’s no different in 2015. Thomas has not only started every game as the Browns’ left tackle since he entered the league in 2007, but he’s also played every snap.

“He's a great left tackle,” Quinn said Friday. “To be in year eight and dubbed a future Hall of Famer is a great sign of respect for him and the work he put into the game.”

While there aren’t many statistics that show just how well Thomas has played in his career, he’s received postseason honors each year since Cleveland drafted him No. 3 overall. He is a five-time first-team All Pro, and is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. Those eight All-Star games trail only Jim Brown and Lou Groza (nine) as the most in Browns franchise history.

With the Rams’ vaunted pass rush led by Quinn and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown said he feels a bit better going into the Edward Jones Dome with Thomas blocking for him.

“I think anytime you have Joe Thomas at left tackle as a quarterback, there’s a comfort level because of his ability to play a high level,” McCown said. “So, I do feel better, but I also understand that Robert Quinn is as good as it gets in this league as a pass rusher. So, it’ll be a great match-up and fun for people to watch these two guys go at it.”

For his part, Quinn sees it the same way.

“It's a fun matchup. I enjoy them all the time -- best on best,” Quinn said. “It makes me want to try to prove myself and push myself a little bit more.”

Thomas has been going against a string of strong pass rushers, having faced Baltimore and Denver over the past few weeks. But he said this weak each team presents its own set of unique challenges.

“There’s no two great pass rushers who are all the same,” said Thomas, via ClevelandBrowns.com. “It’s really just about spending the time during the week, watching the film, focusing on your technique during practice, trying to take good pass sets, and playing hard and hoping for the best.”

Because the Browns are an unfamiliar opponent -- the last time the two teams faced off against one another was in 2011 -- Quinn said some extra film study is required, especially for someone like Thomas.

“It's all you can do right now -- and of course [there’s] the practice field,” Quinn said. “But as of now, just film study and try to pick up on some keys. But you really get a better feel in the game. We don't play them often so film is a big thing. You better be able to translate it fast come Sunday.”

As the Rams’ season nears its midpoint, Quinn said he can see things coming together for the team. But they still have to go out and execute to their potential.

“I hope guys can really focus one week at a time, just planning on going 1-0 every week,” Quinn said. “I think the players in this locker room are some pretty great pieces in here. I think it's a team that can do it, but we still have to go out there and prove it on Sunday no matter what our team looks like on paper.”

INJURY REPORT

The Rams had good news along much of the injury front with the final report on Friday.

While Quinn (knee) did not practice earlier in the week, he was a full participant on Friday and is listed as probable. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins has passed the concussion protocol, was a full participant in practice and is also listed as probable.

After sitting out earlier in the week, wide receiver Tavon Austin (thigh) was a limited participant on Friday and is listed as questionable. Tight end Lance Kendricks (hand) similarly did not practice earlier in the week, but was limited on Friday and is questionable.

Running back Tre Mason (ankle) did not practice all week and is questionable.

Chris Long (knee) has been ruled out for Sunday. Alec Ogletree (ankle) remains on the active roster, and has also been declared out.

ROSTER MOVE

With Mason questionable for Sunday, the Rams promoted running back Trey Watts to the active roster from the practice squad and waived safety Christian Bryant.

The Rams signed Watts as an undrafted free agent out of Tulsa in 2014, and the running back was a major contributor on special teams last year. Prior to serving a four-game suspension to start the regular season, Watts flashed in the 2015 preseason. He rushed for 98 yards on 24 carries and had eight receptions for 58 yards in the four exhibition matchups.

FILLING IN FOR OGLETREE

The Rams will be without Ogletree for an extended period of time, and on Friday, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said he was pleased with the way St. Louis filled in for the linebacker in Green Bay.

“We managed a lot of different personnel packages and managed a lot of different people through there and it worked out pretty good,” Williams said. 

One of the players involved in the process is Mark Barron, who has been utilized both as a safety and linebacker within Williams’ scheme.

“We have 42 ways to add up to 11,” Williams said. “We have 42 packages of defense that we’ll trot 11 guys out there. We play the same kind of a defensive structure, but we have different people playing different spots. He fits in that very well. I’ve been real proud of him, too.”

And with Barron moving primarily to linebacker, Lamarcus Joyner has become all the more entrenched as the team’s nickel corner. Williams said Friday he’s proud of the Florida State product for how far he’s been able to come along over the last year.

“I’m so proud of his adapting to the National Football League and all of the sudden becoming a student of the game,” Williams said, adding he may have been a little hard on the defensive back last year. “He has reacted very well to that type of coaching and mentoring. I’m proud of him. I really am proud of him. He’s played well and he’s vital to our success. He was very vital in this last ball game. And as you guys watch how he played on [Packers wide receiver Randall] Cobb? Wow. That’s a testament to ‘getting it.’”