FOXBORO, Mass. — Brian Hoyer is back where he started, in more ways than one.
Tom Brady’s former backup set foot on the Gillette Stadium practice fields this week for the first time since his New England Patriots tenure ended in 2012. He wore the orange jersey of his latest team, the Chicago Bears, who signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in April.
The Bears are Hoyer’s sixth club in six seasons, but in a way, his move to the Windy City represents a return to his roots.
In each of his previous three stops — in Arizona, Cleveland and, most recently, Houston — the 30-year-old at least had a chance to compete for the starting job. He started one game for the Cardinals in 2012, 16 for the Browns between 2013 and 2014 and 10 for the Texans last season, including one in the playoffs.
Chicago, though, has Jay Cutler. He’s in no danger of losing his spot atop the depth chart, despite his inconsistency and polarizing personality.
So, Hoyer knew what he was getting into when he chose to sign with the Bears after Houston released him: a return to the same role he filled in each of his three seasons with the Patriots.
?Being a backup here in New England, you?re one play away,” Hoyer said after Wednesday’s joint practice. “It?s been a while since I?ve been in that situation, but at least I?ve been there before. And now I look at, I?ve played a lot of football games. I?ve had that experience. So if I am called upon, I?m not going out there as a guy who?s never played in the league before.”
While he’ll likely only see the field if Cutler is injured or struggles mightily, Hoyer listed several reasons why Chicago was an appealing landing spot for him and his family.
The Bears’ offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, was Hoyer’s quarterbacks coach with the Browns, and Chicago’s quarterbacks coach, former NFL signal-caller Dave Ragone, was a few years ahead of Hoyer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland. The Bears’ rich history and a desire to return to the Midwest after a year in Texas also were strong selling points.
“I?m looking forward to playing in the snow again at some point,” Hoyer said.
While the conditions this week in Foxboro have been nowhere near wintry, returning to the place Hoyer calls his “first NFL home” has been a rewarding experience for the former Patriot.
?It does (bring back memories),” said Hoyer, who appeared in 13 games for New England from 2009 to 2011 and threw one touchdown. “Especially walking to practice, coming back up that way, seeing the guys, seeing some of the coaches. It doesn?t seem like a whole lot?s changed since I left, so it?s been a fun week. …
?It does seem like a long time ago. But you walk back in, and it kind of feels like back to being home.”
Thumbnail photo via Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports Images