BEREA—They say you can always come home.
That’s at least true for the Browns newest quarterback Brian Hoyer.
The North Olmsted native and St. Ignatius graduate joined the Browns last week after being released by the Cardinals on May 12. Hoyer just completed his first full week with the Browns as the team completed its second week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
”I think obviously, when you’re a kid growing up you dream of playing for your hometown team,” Hoyer said after Thursday’s practice. “It really is a dream come true. I always grew up wanting to be Bernie Kosar and now to get a chance to play quarterback for the Browns. It’s definitely an exciting time.”
Hoyer spent his first three seasons backing up Tom Brady in New England after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State.
“For a guy like me coming into the league couldn’t ask for a better place to be to see the way (Brady) approached the little things and set such a high standard I saw what it took to be successful at this level.”
Although, Hoyer learned from Brady, he realized he wasn’t going to get much of a chance to play.
“It was a great opportunity to play behind Tom, but you never get an opportunity behind Tom because he never wants to come out, even if we were 40 points ahead.”
Ironically, getting released by the Patriots might have been a blessing in disguise. He was released near the end of training camp in 2012 and didn’t catch on with another team until the Steelers were ravaged with injuries at quarterback and he was picked up in November by the Browns AFC North rival.
Ironically, the Steelers were a team Hoyer disdained as a young Browns fan growing up.
“When you get to professional sports, it doesn’t matter what team you’re playing for,” Hoyer said. “The Steelers gave me the opportunity to get back into (the NFL).”
Hoyer suddenly seemed to be a hot commodity, despite sitting out for several months. When the Steelers released him, he was immediately picked up by the Cardinals and he started his first NFL game in the season finale against the 49ers. He was 19-of-34 for 225 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 27-13 loss. He was 30-of-53 for 330 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions on the season.
In his first four NFL seasons, Hoyer has appeared in just 15 games completing 57-of-96 passes for 616 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions and a rating of 72.2.
“He was available and we decided to bring him in,” Rob Chudzinski said. “He is a guy who has had experience. He has been around. With our situation right now, you don’t have enough reps to split, they are split a lot of different ways.
“He has a good arm and a good sense for playing,” he said. “We are working him here and we’ll get more of a look at him as we go.”
Finally, getting a chance to play confirmed to Hoyer that he could be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
“You realize when you get out there and actually get a chance to play, that it’s just football,” Hoyer said. “There’s a lot of scheme and stuff like that, but when you get back out on the field and get a taste of playing, you realized for a guy like me who hadn’t played as much over three years how much you miss being out on the field.
“No doubt, I think I have the capability to be a starting quarterback.”
Prior to free agency, the Cardinals tendered Hoyer with a second-round tender making it very difficult for a team to sign him. The Browns were rumored to be interested in Hoyer, but didn’t have a second-round draft choice to offer Hoyer a contract.
Despite tendering Hoyer the second-round contract, when they acquired Carson Palmer, the Cardinals quarterback position changed.
Hoyer felt his finish to the 2012 season allowed him a chance to continue his career, despite being on his fourth team in the last 12 months.
“I think the Cardinals did right for me by letting me go early, so I could catch on with someone,” he said. “The way I finished last year I felt pretty good about opportunities I might have.”
Hoyer said it’s been a whirlwind since joining the Browns.
“It is fun being home but it is my job and I’ve spent a lot of time studying,” Hoyer said. “Being home is great because there’s a level of comfort. I didn’t need directions to get to work.”
Hoyer remembers growing up as a Browns fan and he and his father were in attendance at the final home game in old Cleveland Municipal Stadium before the Browns moved to Baltimore.
“My dad and I were there,” he said. “I remember being scared because people were ripping seats out all around us.”
When Hoyer was signed, the Browns released Thad Lewis, giving Hoyer more reps.
“We don’t necessarily need a fourth (quarterback),” Chudzinski said. “That is traditionally done, but we need reps and three is a good move for us.”
Chudzinski said for now, Hoyer will continue to work with the third team, behind Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.
“That’s how we will have them,” Chudzinski said. “We will have them 1-2-3. We are getting some extra reps with the young guys and really working that so Brian has been able to get some extra reps with the three’s.”
Hoyer is relishing the chance to play in front of the team he grew up cheering for.
“For me, I’m just learning from Brandon and Jason and coach (Norv) Turner is a great coach,” Hoyer said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity and am trying to improve myself.”