As Tom Brady’s Backup, Brian Hoyer Confident He Belongs in NFL

As Tom Brady's Backup, Brian Hoyer Confident He Belongs in NFL FOXBORO, Mass. — It was a year ago this week when quarterback Brian Hoyer realized he belonged in the NFL.

Hoyer, an undrafted free agent from Michigan State, was coming off his most gratifying performance of his short professional career, completing 18-of-25 passes for 242 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in the Patriots' preseason victory against the Giants.

He was the only quarterback the Patriots employed in their preseason finale, and it quickly validated the rookie's strong training camp.

After going undrafted — getting passed over 256 times, by a good chunk of players who are already out of the league — Hoyer second-guessed his belonging in the game. He had to beat out Matt Gutierrez and Kevin O'Connell, who each had experience with the organization, and later in the summer of 2009, the Patriots added veteran Andrew Walter.

Even as Hoyer was putting some good tape together, the numbers game was impossible to ignore. Yet, that was all tossed out the window after Hoyer's rock-solid job against the Giants.

"At a certain point, you probably question yourself, especially after the way I got here," Hoyer said. "You question yourself whether you're supposed to be here or not. Then you go out and play, and play a full NFL game from start to finish and come out on top. I think that’s a big confidence booster, and then it carried over into the season."

Hoyer completed 29 of 44 passes (65.9 completion percentage) for 354 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions during the 2009 preseason. His performance was strong enough for the Patriots to carry him into the regular season as the Patriots' lone backup.

"Brian did things pretty well pretty quickly. I think that Brian [and] Matt Cassel, those guys set the bars at a pretty good level," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "I think Brian was a fast starter, and I think he caught everybody’s eye pretty quickly."

Hoyer was happy to hear Belichick's praise.

"Coming from Coach, that’s great," Hoyer said. "But at the same time, you know he's also going to be the first one to say you've just got to keep getting better and keep working every day. Cassel has proven himself. I haven’t done anything yet. For me, it's about always trying to be ready, trying to learn and trying to be a better player every day."

Hoyer has kept it going this summer, and he was more than happy to reflect on the 2009 preseason finale. With that, though, he was also excited about his development again in 2010. Hoyer completed 32 of 57 passes (56.1 percent) for 471 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also earned an NFL-caliber scar in the finale against the Giants on Thursday.

Considering how poorly the Patriots' backup offensive linemen played in front of Hoyer, those numbers are of the astronomical variety, further proving Hoyer's worth in the game. Those butterflies have all but disappeared, and his head won't be spinning all over the planet next week when the Patriots kick off their season.

Hoyer is here, and he knows he's earned it.

"The one thing that I'll never forget is that first game, that Monday night game when the jets flew over," Hoyer said. "It just kind of hit me. This is the NFL. This is where you're meant to be."

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