Whether he’s just trying to build him up prior to this week’s game or not remains to be seen.
“He’s played great,” Harbaugh said in a conference call on Wednesday. “Winning quarterback, done a great job for them. I think I said in our press conferences, the best quarterback – I’ve been a Browns fan for a long time growing up and everything. He’s played great for them. He’s just a great quarterback, just put it that way.”
Through two games, Hoyer has some pretty good statistics to back up Harbaugh’s words.
Hoyer is tied for second in the AFC in the fourth quarter passing statistic. He is tied with Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco with a 95.8 rating in the fourth quarter. Hoyer is 17-of-25 for 142 yards in the final period, with a completion percentage of 68 percent.
In the two games Hoyer played the entire game in 2013 and the two games thus far in 2014, Hoyer has led successful game-winning or game-clinching drives late in the game on three of four occasions, including last week against the Saints.
Overall, Hoyer is 6th in the AFC with a rating of 87.4, while Flacco is 8th with a 83.2 rating.
Harbaugh said Hoyer has shown his mettle with the adversity he has overcome, namely coming back from a torn ACL and fending off first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel.
“That’s a good point, he really has (overcome adversity),” Harbaugh said. “I’m sure he’s a very confident guy. He’s done nothing but win since he’s taken over the reins in Cleveland, even last year.
“He played so well in the last two games, especially against the Saints under pressure,” he said. “That last drive was just about as good as it gets in the NFL. It seems like he’s got a great relationship with Johnny Manziel and they support each other. It just seems from the outside looking in like a really good situation.”
The Browns have been looking for a quarterback for quite some time and at least, Harbaugh thinks the Browns have one in Hoyer.
“I mean, the most important thing probably in this league is to have a quarterback who can win for you,” he said. “That entails a lot. It’s not just being able to throw the ball – but you’ve got to be able to throw it – it’s what you do under pressure, leadership; it’s managing the offense; it’s being able to make tight throws down the field or get the ball out under pressure or get you in the right run versus the right look.
“Whatever it might be, it all adds up to getting your team in a position to win. It may be the most complicated, most challenging position to play in all sports,” he said. “I happen to think it is. It’s a must. It’s necessary. It’s an absolute must if you want to have success as a football team. It’s made the difference for them potentially whenever he’s been in there in the last two years. Obviously he’s 4-2, right? He’s done great. I don’t know how he would have fared in previous years. It’s pretty hard to speculate on that, but he’s done great since he’s been in there. That’s for sure.”
Hoyer was told about Harbaugh’s comments after practice, but he downplayed them.
“I haven’t heard about that,” Hoyer said. “It’s a nice compliment, but I’ve got a long way to go.”
Pettine said Wednesday that he was the least optimistic about Tate playing this week. With a bye after this week, it is possible the Browns will hold all three players out this week.
“I don’t see Tate going this week,” Pettine said.
During the portion of practice that was open to the media, Tate was on the stationary bike, while Mingo and Cameron were doing the individual drills with their position coaches.
DL John Hughes (hamstring) was also practicing.
“It felt great to get back out there with my teammates,” Cameron said after practice.
He was asked if he had thought he would play this week.
“I have no hunches.”
Cameron said he was excited to see the Browns drive the field for the win, especially fellow TE Gary Barnidge making a huge fourth down catch for a first down.
“I was so happy for the team,” he said. “Gary made a great play and I was happy for him.”
The Big Trade: Pettine was with the Ravens as a defensive coach in 2006 when the Browns flipped draft choices with the Ravens in order to take LB Kamerion Wimbley. The Ravens then took DL Haloti Ngata. The Browns traded the 12th pick to the Ravens for the 13th pick and a sixth-round pick (181st).
With the 13th pick, the Browns took Wimbley and DL Babatunde Oshinowo.
“Haloti, we were thrilled to get,” Pettine said. “We felt it was a steal to get him where we did.”
Ngata has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times since 2006.