Patriots Back-Up QB Brian Hoyer Would Start if Tom Brady Can’t Play

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Getty Brian Hoyer is the Patriots back-up quarterback, and would start in AFC Championship if Brady is unable to play.

What just looked like the Patriots being coy at the beginning of the week has now led to a bit of panic from Patriots fans as Tom Brady is officially listed as questionable against the Jaguars. Sports Illustrated reported Brady needed four stitches on his hand after hitting the buckle of a teammate’s helmet earlier this week. If Brady is unable to play against the Jaguars in the AFC Championship, Brian Hoyer would get the start for the Patriots.

It is worth noting Hoyer is the only backup quarterback the Patriots have on their roster. If Brady is not active on Sunday, Hoyer would technically be the only quarterback on the active roster thanks to the Patriots trading away Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this season. New England also traded Jacoby Brissett to the Colts in September, meaning the Patriots traded away two backup quarterbacks this season. While neither player is equal to Brady, it would have given the team a bit more depth for situations like this.

Hoyer has played in the league for nine seasons, and has started in 37 games over his career, including six games this season for the 49ers. In those six games, Hoyer completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 1,287 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. Hoyer’s best season came in 2015 when he started nine games for the Texans. Hoyer threw for 2,606 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions prior to sustaining a season-ending injury.

In an interview with the Sporting News, Hoyer assured fans he was ready to go if his number is called.

I prepare every week like I’m going to play. Whether I do or I don’t, that’s not really up to me. So whether I’m getting the reps or not, I’m always preparing to play, because the truth of reality is you never know when your name is going to be called. … If I don’t play, it’s good for our team. If I do, then I’m ready to go.

It would be shocking if Brady does not try to play on Sunday, but the bigger question is what level Brady will be able to play. Pregame’s R.J. Bell reported Brady’s injury is more serious than people think.

“Multiple private sources telling me …Tom Brady’s hand injury is WORSE than the mainstream [media] thinks,” Bell tweeted.

Brady’s most recent interview does not do much to provide assurance that he will be playing on Sunday. NFL.com detailed Brady’s brief answers when asked about his hand injury.

Question: Tom, how’s your hand?

Tom Brady: I’m not talking about it.

Q: Thumbs up or thumbs down for Sunday?

TB: We’ll see.

Q: Did you throw any footballs today?

TB: I’m not talking about that.

Q: Did you practice today?

TB: I was out there.

Hoyer started his career as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots in 2009. Hoyer also has spent time with the Cardinals, Browns, Texans and Bears over his career. The Patriots signed Hoyer mid-season after trading away Garoppolo. According to CBS Sports, the Patriots signed Hoyer to a three-year contract, as the Packers were also looking to sign him.

If Brady is sidelined, Hoyer faces a difficult matchup against the Jaguars defense. Jacksonville only allowed 16.8 points per game during the regular season, ranking them as the No. 2 unit in the league. The Jaguars’ 55 sacks put them one sack shy of the Steelers’ league-leading 56 sacks. Hoyer does have the advantage of being a bit more mobile than Brady, and fans can expect the Jaguars to test Hoyer early if Brady is unable to play.

Here’s a look at some of Hoyer’s top highlights.

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