Hoyer named starter against Cincinnati

CLEVELAND – There was no need to drag out the issue any longer, unless the Browns wanted to play some silly mind game with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Brian Hoyer will be the starting quarterback for a second straight week when the Bengals invade First Energy Stadium Sunday. Brandon Weeden, who hasn’t thrown since spraining his right thumb against the Baltimore Ravens, has been ruled out.

It’s doubtful that Browns coach Rob Chudzinski would have returned to a healthy Weeden. Hoyer’s gutsy performance in a 31-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings should have earned him a second start the minute last Sunday’s game ended.

“Brian was obviously critical in that game,” Chudzinski said. “I have confidence in all those guys. I expect Brian will be ready for the game, and I’m looking forward to it.”

It’s another special week for Hoyer, who will get his first start in front of the hometown fans. He’s a native of North Olmsted and a graduate of St. Ignatius High School.

Hoyer’s mission this week is to put the fanfare behind him and concentrate solely on the Bengals, who are coming off an emotional win over the Green Bay Packers.

“When you’re out there, that’s not what you’re thinking about,” Hoyer said. “To me, it really doesn’t matter who’s in the stands or who’s at home watching, as far as friends and family and things like that, because I have much bigger things to worry about when I’m out there.”

Hoyer mixed periods of outstanding play with some confounding mistakes in completing 30-of-54 passes for 321 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions last Sunday. It’s still a work in progress for him.

“It’s always been my mentality that you have to move on to the next play,” Hoyer said. “If you dwell on something that’s happened in the past, it’s going to affect the future in a negative way.

“If you’re dwelling on ‘man, I just threw a nice touchdown pass,’ you might go out and the next time throw a bad pass. Whether it’s a high or low, you have to move on and try to stay even keel.”

The decision to go back to Weeden will be more difficult to make with each passing week, assuming Hoyer continues to play well. Weeden’s injury could factor into the situation next week, when the Browns play Thursday at home against the Buffalo Bills.

Chudzinski continues to take the approach that everything will be re-evaluated when Weeden returns.

“Like I’ve said all along, we’ll approach it on a week-to-week basis and see where everybody is at,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll make the best decision for what I determine gives us the best chance to win.”

Hoyer’s chances for long-term work will grow as he gains the confidence of more teammates. His play on the game-winning, 55-yard drive against the Vikings clearly won the hearts of many of them.

“I’m very confident in him,” said receiver Josh Gordon, who caught 10 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown against the Vikings. “He’s a real-fired-up kind of guy. He really wants to prove himself.

“You never see him get rattled. After the interceptions and sacks and bad plays, he came out there on the next drive and acted like it never happened.”

That composure came in handy on the road in a loud environment at Mall of America Stadium.

“A lot of people probably thought I’d be nervous or anxious, but I think for me I always feel the best when I can get to the stadium and get into a routine and get things going,” Hoyer said. “That helped me loosen up. You have to be yourself.”