Brian Hoyer Has Taken Leap From Overwhelmed, Undrafted Rookie to Trustworthy Backup

Brian Hoyer Has Taken Leap From Overwhelmed, Undrafted Rookie to Trustworthy Backup FOXBORO, Mass. —Tom Brady can hardly discuss backup quarterback Brian Hoyer without taking a jab at Michigan State, the apprentice’s alma mater.

Clearly, Brady kids because he cares. Brady, a Michigan alum, is impressed with Hoyer’s progression since going undrafted in 2009. Brady took his latest shot at Hoyer when he met with the media Tuesday in Flowery Branch, Ga.

“He’s done a great job,” Brady said. “I really enjoy Brian. And from what you guys see, he’s a really good player. [He] throws the ball well. He’s got really good command out there. He’s really smart. For a Michigan State guy, he’s pretty smart.”

Hoyer has had an excellent summer of practices, playing well when he steps in with the first team and also providing enough of a challenge when he leads the second-stringers against the No. 1 defense. He’s made good decisions, delivered throws with confidence and looks like a legitimate professional quarterback.

Those are some massive strides for a guy who was passed over 256 times during the 2009 draft and entered his first Patriots camp no better than fourth on the quarterback depth chart. Even more, when Hoyer reported to rookie camp, he looked like a guy who was in over his head. Yet, as he progressed through that initial season and into his second year, his improvements have been eye-poppingly tangible.

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said he could see some of Hoyer’s positive traits while studying his Michigan State film, but it’s apparent the Pats’ front office couldn’t predict just how fast it would all come together.

“I think a lot of the things that you’ve seen on the field, some of those things showed up in college as well,” Caserio said. “He played in a pro-style system, pretty balanced between run and pass. He played in cold weather. He played in the elements, which is important, especially for a quarterback playing up here [in New England], so he kind of dealt with all those things at Michigan State. We’re happy that he’s here and we’re happy he’s on the club.”

So, point blank, why wasn’t Hoyer drafted?

“I’m not sure,” Caserio said. “I mean, obviously, we didn’t draft him, either. It’s just the way it works out sometimes. Some players get drafted. Some players aren’t drafted. I can’t really tell you why he didn’t. We’re just happy that he’s here on the club.”

Hoyer has completed 16-of-28 passes (57.1 percent) for 200 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions through two preseason games. He’s made some really strong throws, including a 24-yard touchdown strike to rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski on Thursday in Atlanta. And Hoyer’s completion percentage has suffered because he’s been getting smoked by the lack of protection of the second-team offensive line, which has had a forgettable preseason.

It’s just the latest example of a young player who has taken every advantage of his opportunities. Those chances were very limited about a year ago, but Hoyer has since become Brady’s unquestioned backup. Hoyer still has plenty of room for improvement, but he’s only been trending upward.

“This is really his time to get a large volume of snaps,” Caserio said of training camp and the preseason. “Brian has come in since day one, and he’s worked hard. He’s smart. He understands our system. He’s got a quick release. He gets rid of the football. He usually makes pretty good decisions. But it’s one thing to do it in practice, [so] you want to get those game reps and see how he’s going to respond. I think when he’s been out there, he’s done some good things.”

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