FOXBORO, Mass. –By most standards, Brian Hoyer still is a relatively young man. But for an NFL player, he’s already well into middle age.
Hoyer, who turned 32 last month, is the sixth-oldest player on the New England Patriots’ roster. Eight players on that same roster have yet to celebrate their 24th birthday, and New England’s top receiver, Brandin Cooks, just did so in September.
Even Hoyer, though, is a baby compared to the man above him on the depth chart: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who, as you’ve surely heard by now, turned 40 this past summer. But spending countless hours in an NFL locker room has helped ease the aging process for the two QBs.
“For being an old guy, I think (Brady) stays pretty with the times,” Hoyer said Wednesday. “And the one thing that I can say because now I’m one of the older guys — not compared to Tom, but to everybody else — this job keeps you young, because you get to come in every day and hang out with 22-year-olds, 23-year olds. You get to learn what’s the cool music, the fashion, things like that. So I think that part of it has helped keep me young — I know for a fact. And even for a 40-year-old guy, I think it’s kept him young, too.”
Hoyer, who began his career with the Patriots in 2009, landed back in New England last month after the Pats traded backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners released Hoyer, their starter to begin the season, following the trade, and Bill Belichick promptly scooped him up.
“Not much (has changed),” said Hoyer, whose first Patriots stint ended just before the 2012 season. “There’s some new faces for me to learn, and I’m getting there. I think this is my fourth week, so I’m starting to learn some of the new guys. But like I told you guys when I first got back, to walk in and to see Matt Slater, to see Devin McCourty, Rob (Gronkowski), Julian (Edelman), Tom, obviously, the coaching staff — a lot of the similar faces there — and the training staff, the equipment staff, it was very welcoming for me to come back and see those familiar faces.”
Brady hasn’t missed a game due to injury since 2008, so Hoyer isn’t expecting to play any meaningful snaps this season. After bouncing from Pittsburgh to Arizona to Cleveland to Houston to Chicago to San Francisco over a six-year span, he was happy to accept a backup job if it meant a return to New England.
“I think it’s just fun for me to be back in general,” Hoyer said. “I think for me, with the way that my year has gone, it couldn’t have gone any better than to come back here. A place that I’m familiar with, a team that I’m familiar with and guys that I’m familiar with. And just try to come in and contribute any way I can.”
The Patriots’ dominant play of late has allowed Hoyer to at least see some game action. He played 12 garbage-time snaps in blowout wins over the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, completing all three of his passes for 37 yards.