The Browns are welcoming back a key member of their team at just the right time.
Cleveland officially activated guard Joel Bitonio from the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced Friday. Safety Tedric Thompson was waived in a corresponding roster move.
The longest-tenured member of the Browns, Bitonio missed the team's first playoff game since 2002 due to a positive COVID-19 test, which forced him to quarantine in his family's basement and prompted him to write a heartfelt letter to his teammates and Browns fans ahead of Cleveland's wild-card game against Pittsburgh. The Browns pulled off the upset while playing Michael Dunn, and for a brief stretch, practice squad promotion Blake Hance, in Bitonio's place.
Bitonio was named a second-team All-Pro at the conclusion of the 2020 season, joining teammate and fellow guard Wyatt Teller on the second team, and sharing the honor of All-Pro with Browns tackle Jack Conklin, who landed on the first team.
Bitonio was drafted by the Browns in the second round of the 2014 draft and has been around for all of the nonsense and negative outcomes -- Johnny Manziel, Hue Jackson, the 0-16 season -- possible in the last seven years. He'll get to enjoy his first taste of the postseason after clearing the COVID-19 hurdle.