|QB Hoyer to make 2nd start for Browns|
|Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:26 AM|
BEREA — As a boy, Brian Hoyer spent many chilly Sundays with his dad sitting in cavernous Cleveland Stadium rooting for their beloved Browns.
For the youngster, there was no place better — even if their seats weren’t so great.
“They were behind one of the posts,” Hoyer said with a smile, remembering the challenge of cheering on idols like Bernie Kosar and Ozzie Newsome. “It was kind of hard to see.”
On Sunday, Hoyer’s family, countless friends and Cleveland fans will have an unobstructed view of the hometown kid, who was always the hero while wearing his No. 19 Kosar jersey in the backyard.
Hoyer, who rallied the Browns to a shocking win last week at Minnesota, will make his second straight start at quarterback against the rival Cincinnati Bengals and in front of 73,000 fans.
“It means a lot,” he said Wednesday. “It will be awesome.”
With starter Brandon Weeden still sidelined with a sprained right thumb, Browns coach Rob Chudzinski will again turn to Hoyer, who threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 51 seconds left, as Cleveland beat the Vikings 31-27.
In just his second NFL start, Hoyer overcame three interceptions, threw for 321 yards and rallied the Browns (1-2) to their first win to close a tumultuous week that included the trade of star running back Trent Richardson.
Hoyer’s encore wasn’t guaranteed as Chudzinski left his options open. The decision became easier with Weeden still unable to throw since getting hurt two weeks ago against Baltimore but Chudzinski reported Weeden is progressing and could resume throwing this week.
Hoyer, who jumped from No. 3 on the depth chart, is starting for now. Chudzinski doesn’t have to make any long-term plans at quarterback and intends to keep things fluid.
“We’ll just approach it from a week-to-week basis and see where everybody’s at and we’ll make the best decision for what I determine gives us the best chance to win,” he said.
Hoyer earned a second shot with his performance in the ear-piercing Metrodome. The 27-year-old, who spent three seasons as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, displayed Brady-like poise and confidence while leading the Browns to the comeback win.
“He came in and played with great composure,” Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas said. “Obviously, this was his first live snaps with the No. 1s and he did a great job just seamlessly coming in and throwing the ball on time where it needed to go, saying the play in the huddle confidently, directing the offense. Those are the type of things that were impressive.”
Hoyer benefited by wide receiver Josh Gordon’s return from a 2-game suspension. Hoyer targeted Gordon 19 times and connected with him on 10 passes for 146 yards. That combo was perhaps the biggest reason Cleveland won and Gordon said he and Hoyer are developing chemistry.
Hoyer told reporters he received a text message from Brady following the game but would not reveal the contents.
Not long after he was named starter last week, Hoyer heard from Kosar, the QB he once worshipped.
“He sent me a message and a text,” Hoyer added. “That was pretty cool. You look down at your phone and it says, ‘Hey, this is Bernie Kosar.’ To me, when I used to wear the jersey in the backyard to now getting a message from him is pretty cool.”
NOTES: LB Jabaal Sheard didn’t practice because of a sprained knee. If he’s out, rookie Barkevious Mingo will start. … K Billy Cundiff (quad) also sat out and if he’s not ready, P Spencer Lanning may double as kicker. Lanning was named AFC special teams player of the week after punting, kicking an extra point after Cundiff got hurt and throwing a TD pass. … Gordon said Chudzinski reassured him the Browns have no plans to trade him. … Thomas will play in his 100th career game Sunday. He has played in 6,054 consecutive snaps, the NFL’s longest active stretch.
Ex-NFL player Paul Oliver commits suicide in Ga.
MARIETTA, Ga. — Former San Diego Chargers and University of Georgia defensive back Paul Oliver committed suicide at his Atlanta-area home, a medical examiner ruled Wednesday.
Cobb County investigators announced the 29-year-old Oliver was found dead Tuesday night in Marietta, about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Police said Oliver died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Oliver was a 2007 fourth-round supplemental draft pick from Georgia after he was ruled academically ineligible his senior year. He played four seasons with the Chargers; his best year was 2010, when he started eight games and had 62 tackles along with an interception.
Oliver moved to the New Orleans Saints in 2011 but was released after training camp. He returned to San Diego for one more season.
“It’s sad to lose anyone, for that matter, but a guy that you played with — I can remember interactions with him like it was yesterday,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.
Oliver, a native of suburban Atlanta, also was remembered for his career at Georgia, where he played from 2004-06. He started all 13 games his final season and finished with seven interceptions and five forced fumbles in his college career.
One of Oliver’s best games at Georgia was holding Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson, then at Georgia Tech, to just two catches for 13 yards in 2006. The defensive back had an interception in the game’s final minute to preserve a 15-12 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
“It’s heartbreaking for me personally, for our staff, for the Bulldog Nation I’m sure, and obviously for his family,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I was crushed this morning when I heard it, quite frankly. I really haven’t been able to keep it off my mind to be honest with you. We’ve got to find a way to reach out and help in any way we can. If there’s some way that the Bulldog Nation can rally around that family, I hope everybody would be encouraged to do so.”
The university announced Oliver was survived his wife, Chelsea, and two children. Funeral arrangements had not been finalized.
Bucs bench QB Freeman, turn to rookie Glennon
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have benched quarterback Josh Freeman and replaced him with rookie Mike Glennon.
The move Wednesday came two days after coach Greg Schiano insisted Freeman remained the starter because he gave the team the best chance to win.
The coach changed his mind after meeting Tuesday with general manager Mark Dominik and later discussed the switch with ownership.
“This is a performance-based decision,” Schiano said Wednesday. “We’re not getting the job done on the field.”
The winless Bucs have lost their first three games, two on field goals in the closing seconds. Freeman has completed just 45.7 percent of his passes for 571 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Dating to last season, they’ve dropped eight out of nine games and the offense hasn’t played well throughout the stretch.
Freeman is in the final year of the contract he signed as a rookie.
Glennon was drafted in the third round out of North Carolina State, where he spent part of his college career as a backup to Russell Wilson. He will make his first pro start Sunday at home against Arizona.
After setting single-season team records for passing yards and points scored in 2012, the Bucs have scored just three offensive touchdowns through three games — none in the past seven quarters.
Freeman’s completion percentage and quarterback rating (59.3) are last in the league and Tampa Bay’s had trouble scoring points despite having proven playmakers in running back Doug Martin and receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
The fifth-year pro, once touted by Dominik as a franchise quarterback, has thrown for four TDs vs. 12 interceptions in the last six games.
The switch caps a tumultuous month in which Freeman missed a team photo shoot on Labor Day, was not voted a team captain for the first time in three years and refuted reports that he was seeking a trade. Throw in his quarterback rating and completion percentage, plus a couple of last-second losses in games in which he and the offense did not perform well, and he’s back on the bench.
And, perhaps headed out of Tampa Bay, with the trade deadline being five weeks away.
Ohio court reduces ex-Bengals player’s sentence
CINCINNATI — Former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Nate Webster will only have to serve 10 years of his 12-year sentence for having sex with the underage teen daughter of a former Bengals assistant coach.
The Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that prosecutors didn’t prove one of four counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor that Webster was convicted of last year. It upheld his other convictions.
Prosecutors said Webster had sex several times with the girl in 2009 when she was 15. Webster claimed the sex occurred when she was 16, Ohio’s legal age of consent.
A message was left at the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office.
Webster played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2000-03 and for the Bengals in 2004-05. He played for the Denver Broncos from 2006-08.