By T.J. ZUPPE, 92.3 The Fan

CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer never got his fairytale ending to the 2013 season. After winning back-to-back games early in the campaign and tempting the fans with good quarterback play, a season ending torn ACL in a Thursday night affair against the Buffalo Bills essentially sealed the fate of the season.

At that point, no one knew that fate would revisit the connection made that night to form the future of the Browns in 2014 – and potentially beyond.

After all, patrolling the sidelines as defensive coordinator of the Bills that evening was Mike Pettine. And while Hoyer would certainly like to erase what happened on that Thursday night, he is looking forward to reconnecting with a link from that evening, his new head coach, Mike Pettine.

After hearing Pettine’s press conference on Thursday, the Browns signal caller could not hide his enthusiasm for his new coach.

“You listen to him talk, he talks about mental toughness, accountability, holding players to a high standard. Those are the little things that can make the difference in a close game,” Hoyer said. “It’s exciting to have a guy that comes in and talks about that.”

Pettine may have been a somewhat unknown to Cleveland fans prior to his hire. However, Hoyer was quick to point out how people around the league view him.

“A lot of people didn’t know his name until now but you ask anyone in the football circles, they know who Mike Pettine is,” Hoyer said.

Those qualities weren’t the only reason Hoyer is happy to have Pettine now leading the way. On top of his defensive schemes that Hoyer felt were difficult to game plan for, he brings something extremely important to the building in the Berea.

“We’re excited to have a leader,” Hoyer said. “I’ve been in there rehabbing and its kind of an empty building. You didn’t know what direction it was going in.”

That direction was not always clear to players in the organization. With the hiring of Pettine, Hoyer feels the picture is starting to come into focus. That in itself is a relief.

“The anticipation is over with,” Hoyer said. “You’re always checking to see what’s going on. All that speculation is gone. You know who the guy is. I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking to him more.

“For me, at this point now, I don’t have to think about who’s the next coach. Now for these next couple months, I’ll really focus on my rehab and get back to the point where come April, I’m ready to go.”

As far as rehab goes, Hoyer believes it is progressing well.

“I feel great,” Hoyer said. “I’m doing a lot of things. I’m going out and throwing everyday, dropping back. Started running the last couple of weeks. Doing a lot of strength training.

“I don’t know if I could put a percentage on it. All I know is, come April, I want to do whatever I have to do to prove to those guys I’m ready to be cleared for football.”

Proving his health isn’t the only thing he will be forced to do. With the NFL Draft approaching and rumors circulating about the Browns’ potential interest in drafting a quarterback, Hoyer will have to prove his worth as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

That is exactly what he plans to do.

“My plan is to be the starting quarterback of the Browns,” Hoyer said. “I can only control the things that I can control. So me for me, the next couple months, its focusing on rehab. Once the rehab gets done, I focus on off-season workouts, mini-camps and OTA’s.

“None of that really concerns me. It’s kind of out of control at this point until I get back practicing.”

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