Brian Hoyer’s story, seemingly pulled from a Disney movie script, took a cruel turn: the Cleveland quarterback’s season is over.
A lifelong Browns fan living out his boyhood dream by starting for his hometown team, Hoyer tore a knee ligament while running for a first down Thursday night against Buffalo and will miss the remainder of this season.
It’s a devastating blow for Hoyer, who had waited five years — three as Tom Brady’s backup in New England — to become an NFL starter and led the Browns to wins over Minnesota and Cincinnati while replacing an injured Brandon Weeden.
“This is disappointing,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Friday on a conference call. “It’s an unfortunate thing.”
Chudzinski said an MRI taken Friday showed Hoyer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He will undergo surgery, ending his feel-good story after just three starts and with the Browns (3-2) rolling. Chudzinski said there is no other damage in Hoyer’s knee, which got caught in the turf at FirstEnergy as he slid and was hit by Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.
The usual recovery time is nine months to one year, but for Hoyer the injury stole a chance to prove to Cleveland’s front office he could be their franchise quarterback.
Chudzinski said he spoke with Hoyer after getting the medical results.
“It’s hard on him,” said Chudzinski. “Obviously he’s disappointed, but if you know him and you know how positive he is and the type of person he is. He’s already thinking about when he’s going to be back. I reassured him that as well. I wanted to let him know how much he meant to us and what he did. But he’ll be back. He’ll make it back. He’s that type of guy.
“He’s the kind of guy you don’t doubt.”
Chudzinski said there are no immediate plans to sign another quarterback and Weeden will return as Cleveland’s starter.
Signed by Cleveland as a free agent in May, Hoyer, released by New England, Pittsburgh and Arizona in the past year, began the season as Cleveland’s No. 3 quarterback. With Weeden out recovering from a sprained thumb, Hoyer made just his second NFL start in Week 3 and led the Browns to consecutive wins, directing clutch fourth-quarter drives and throwing clinching touchdown passes in both games.
“He did a great job and he was a big reason why we won those games, but not the only reason,” Chudzinski said, professing the “next-man up” mantra all NFL coaches maintain because of injuries.
With the Browns trailing 7-0, Hoyer, flushed from the pocket, took off up field. He had just passed the first-down marker and was sliding when he took a blow near the helmet from Alonso in front of Cleveland’s sideline. Several Browns coaches and players screamed for a penalty as Hoyer lay face down in the grass.
Chudzinski said DE Desmond Bryant is “fine” after being kept overnight as a precaution at the Cleveland Clinic. Bryant was removed from the game with shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. Chudzinski expects Bryant to play next week against Detroit. Bryant had a similar problem last season with Oakland but played in the next game. ... Chudzinski said FB Chris Ogbonnaya is going through the league’s concussion protocol program after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit.