FOXBORO -- With Mac Jones dealing with a nasty ankle injury -- which you may have heard has the quarterback taking things "day by day" -- veteran backup quarterback Brian Hoyer is expected to get the start for the Patriots in Sunday's road game against the Green Bay Packers. It would be Hoyer's 40th start of his 14-year NFL career, but just his second with the New England Patriots.
His only previous start for New England -- and his last start overall -- was two seasons ago in a Monday night tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs. Hoyer had only a few days to get ready for the game after then-starter Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. It left the Patriots scrambling to figure out how to keep everyone else on the roster healthy ahead of kickoff, and the team eventually took two planes to Missouri.
Hoyer was not great in that start. He was picked off by the Kansas City D and also lost a fumble, in addition to a few other mental mistakes that contributed to the 26-10 New England loss. That was the only playing time Hoyer would see in 2020. He didn't dress for any other games the rest of the way.
The veteran remembers that night well, but he isn't going to let his last start define who he has been over his career.
"I mean look, I've played for 14 years. I have a lot of bad memories," Hoyer told reporters inside Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. "I have a lot of good memories, too. One game doesn't define me, one play doesn't define me. I'm excited for any opportunity I get to go play. I really could care less about that."
A reporter brought up that even after that performance against the Chiefs, and even with an 11-game losing streak as a starter, that Hoyer is still pretty good at throwing the football.
"I don't think I'd still be here if I wasn't," he replied.
This time around, Hoyer is getting a full week to prepare for his start. Or, should we say, potential start, since the Patriots are attempting to keep everyone guessing with Jones' status.
But given Jones didn't practice on Wednesday, and Hoyer was the one chatting with reporters, it's safe to bet that No. 5 will be taking the snaps against the Packers. For Hoyer though, this is just like any other week.
"My approach is the same always. Whether I get reps or I don't get reps, you always got to be ready to play," he said. "As we saw on Sunday, you're only one play away. I mean, that was the last offensive play of the game [when Jones got hurt], so it didn't really come up that day. But, it's the nature of your job and the business that we're in. Always try to be as prepared as I can, whether I'm taking every rep in practice or I'm taking none.
"It's just a day-by-day process with how we're handling it and go from there," he said, borrowing this week's favorite phrase of Mac and Belichick.
Belichick did admit Wednesday that Hoyer would start Sunday if Jones can't play. Since this is Hoyer's third stint with the Patriots, the head coach is pretty confident in what the QB can accomplish on the field when his number is called.
"Brian has been in a lot of different systems, seen a lot of football, taken a lot of snaps for us in various capacities," Belichick said. of his backup. "I thought he played well in the preseason. If we need him to go, he'll be ready to go."
Hoyer, who will turn 37 next month, isn't going to let this moment get to him. But that doesn't mean he isn't excited. He's eager to play at the historic Lambeau Field against the Packers, which he called a "great opportunity."
He's not sure how many more of these opportunities he's going to get, so he's going to enjoy this moment for however long it lasts.
"At this point, you don't know how many chances like this you get anymore," Hoyer said. "So, obviously, it's a part of the job. You're always ready to play. So, for me, it's an opportunity to go out there and have fun, and go out and execute. Have fun. I really love my teammates, what they do, how hard they work. So an opportunity to go out there and play with those guys."
Tune in to Sunday's Patriots-Packers game on WBZ-TV -- your home of the New England Patriots! Coverage continues Friday night at 7 p.m. with Patriots All Access on WBZ-TV. Pregame coverage kicks off at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday morning with Patriots GameDay, the Pats and the Packers kick off at 4:25 p.m., and we wrap it all up with Patriots 5th Quarter after the game over on TV38.
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