The Return Of B Hoyer

With the Steelers for a cup of coffee in 2012, Brian Hoyer returns as the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.

PITTSBURGH -- Massive roster turnover is one a sign of a new coach, or two, and since the Cleveland Browns last beat the Pittsburgh Steelers the Browns have replaced 68 percent of their 53-man roster.

And that game was played just over 21 months ago.

But, hey, the Steelers -- with the same coach from that fumble-fest in Cleveland -- have replaced 60 percent of their roster.

There was one player the Steelers had active that day, who didn't play, but will start Sunday for the Browns at quarterback when the teams open their 2014 season at Heinz Field.

Brian Hoyer was with the Steelers for 18 days in 2012. He was signed as insurance following injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, and was active for both games during his stint as Charlie Batch's backup. But he didn't play.

Does anyone here remember Hoyer?

"No," said Steve McLendon.

"Briefly," said Kelvin Beachum.

"Yes," said Greg Warren.

What does Warren remember?

"Not much."

What was his number?

"Six?" asked Will Johnson.

"I think he had eight," said Sean Spence.

"B Hoyer, when he was here, was number six," said Maurkice Pouncey. "Wait. Eight or six. No, wait, he took Byron Leftwich's number four."

Actually, Hoyer was number three.

Does anyone remember where he lockered?

"I have no idea," said Ben Roethlisberger. "Somewhere over there."

Sitting "over there" was Jason Worilds.

"I don't remember the dude," said Worilds.

But Hoyer was remembered for his on-the-field work. Warren remembered "hearing rumbles about how good he was going to be." And Roethlisberger said Hoyer was "a good kid" whom he "enjoyed having in that room."

Pouncey, the hale-fellow-well-met of the Steelers' locker room said, "I liked that B Hoyer, man. He was an awesome dude. Really good dude. He was one of those quarterbacks who just gets in there and brings it, like Bruce (Gradkowski) does. When Bruce gets in there he's like an exciting player. He has a lot of energy and I think Brian Hoyer did an excellent job of that when he came here, especially when he came here behind a Hall of Fame quarterback. That's hard to come in there and step in the huddle and take over the guys, but he did a great job."

"He was the scout team quarterback," said safety Robert Golden. "He was real sharp. I know a lot of guys thought highly of him, especially R.C. (Ryan Clark). He always talked about him, how good of a quarterback he was."

The Steelers wanted to keep Hoyer, but with their quarterbacks healthy Hoyer got caught in a numbers game and was waived. He was claimed by the Arizona Cardinals, played well in the final two games (65.8 passer rating), but was released in May.

That same week, Hoyer signed a two-year contract with the Cleveland Browns. He replaced injured Brandon Weeden in Week 3 and became the first quarterback in history to lead the Browns to three wins in his first three starts. Not even the great Otto Graham could make that claim.

Hoyer had a passer rating of 82.6 but tore an ACL in his third start and was done for the season.

The Browns got rid of Weeden and Jason Campbell this past offseason, and drafted Johnny Manziel in the first round. Hoyer easily won the competition against Manziel and returns to Pittsburgh as the Browns' starter.

"As much as a kid growing up in Cleveland could dislike the Steelers, I think I will always have a soft place in my heart for them," said Hoyer. "They gave me a job when nobody else would. Had they not had to release me and bring up a cornerback from the practice squad, who knows how things would have shaken out?"

Hoyer recalled walking out of the South Side facility the day he was released and running into defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

"He said, 'It was great to have you here. If I can ever help you with anything, you let me know,'" Hoyer said. "So, I don’t know if that offer is still on the table now that I am the Browns quarterback."

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