STRONGSVILLE (92.3 The Fan) – Bring it on.
Seems like an appropriate motto for Browns quarterback and Cleveland native Brian Hoyer.
After nearly 5 months of rehab from a torn right ACL, Hoyer is ready to prove himself yet again to a new coaching staff led by Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer, knowing full well that they are considering replacing him with a rookie quarterback in May.
“It brings out the best in me, the competition, proving people wrong, proving people right,” Hoyer said Sunday afternoon during an appearance at the Ohio Sports Collectors Convention being held at the Strongsville Holiday Inn. “I’ll never shy away from any competition.”
In between signing photos and St. Ignatius, Michigan State, Browns, and even a Steelers helmet, Hoyer talked about his road to recovery and hopes to return as the starter for his hometown team this fall.
“It’s such a blue collar town, I kind of put myself in that category,” Hoyer said. “I definitely put a lot of hard work in and this city definitely deserves a winning team and that’s what were all working for.”
Hoyer, who underwent surgery on Oct. 18, 2013, has spent the last 23 weeks working to get back on the field after sustaining the injury in the first quarter of the Browns 37-24 win over the Bills while sliding after scrambling for 11 yards.
Following the surgery, which revealed no other ligament damage, Hoyer set mid-April as his target date to return and it appears he will meet that goal and be able to participate in the team’s workouts, minicamps and OTAs.
“I’m on track to do some of that stuff, most of it I would think,” Hoyer said. “I feel like I’m ready to go.”
Hoyer still has to meet with doctors one more time to get medically cleared, which he doesn’t see as a problem, and then its full go. Weight training and meetings with coaches begin on April 7 and Hoyer is anxious to put the rehab behind him and turn his attention and focus to football.
“There’s not going to be any contact that I have to worry about,” Hoyer said. “I’m basically out there throwing now the way I’ll be throwing in a practice, so in my mind I’m ready to go…from my part there’s nothing holding me back.”
Hoyer grew up in North Olmstead and went to St. Ignatius before starting for Michigan State in college. He went undrafted before the Patriots signed him as a rookie free agent and he was able to earn the backup job behind Tom Brady.
In 2012, after a brief stop with the Steelers, he spent a few weeks in Arizona before the Browns signed him last May. He ended up starting and winning 3 games for the Browns in 2013 by completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 615 yards, 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions last season prior to the knee injury.
Hoyer is well aware of what he could be up against this offseason.
With just him and Alex Tanney currently on the roster following the release of Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden, it’s expected that the Browns will draft a quarterback in May.
“It’s inevitable,” Hoyer said. “In this league there’s constant change. Just by the sheer numbers, someone’s coming. Where that might be, no one knows.”
That’s why he pushed himself hard in rehab to be ready for not just the beginning of offseason workouts but the voluntary veteran minicamp scheduled for April 29-May 1.
“I saw the opportunity that presented itself,” Hoyer said. “I knew we had a minicamp before the draft and I really wanted to push myself to be able to participate as much as I could. With the new staff and GM, [I wanted] to show these guys that I’ll be ready to go.”
Looking over his shoulder isn’t something that Hoyer plans to waste his time and energy on.
“You just have to control what you can control,” Hoyer said. “To look over your shoulder, I don’t know what to look over my shoulder at right now, so who knows how it will shake out.”
The goal for Hoyer remains the same – be healthy and win the starting job this offseason and in training camp later this summer.
“That’s what I’m planning on, that’s what I’ve worked hard for,” Hoyer said. “I’m going to work my butt off, I have worked it off for the past 5 months. Ever since I took the field for the first time, and unfortunately it got cut short by injury, but I felt like this is my team and that’s what I’m going to work towards this offseason.”
A lot has been made over the Browns lack of attendance at the pro days of Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and especially Johnny Manziel, but Hoyer doesn’t think it’s as big of a deal as some make it out to be.
“I think all that stuff is overrated,” Hoyer said. “A pro day is, basically I go out and do a pro day everyday. I go out and throw routes so, those things can be overrated.
“They obviously have a plan and they know what they’re doing so I’ll never question that.”
Even with the prospect of the Browns drafting a quarterback, Hoyer is still excited for the upcoming draft.
“There’s a lot of players in this draft, it’s such a deep draft,” Hoyer said. “Really what I want is the player that is going to help us most to win – right away. Whoever it may be that is most prepared to come in and help this team win, that’s who I want on our team.”
And if it happens to be a QB at No. 4?
Bring it on.
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