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Hoyer learning from the best

08.16.10 at 2:02 pm ET

FOXBORO — Though New England is on the edge of its proverbial seat as it awaits word on just how big Tom Brady’s extension will be worth, it’s important to remember that the Patriots haven’t had to invest too much recently when it comes to acquiring their quarterbacks.

Brady, a sixth-round pick and Matt Cassel, a seventh-rounder, have obviously had success in their careers, and with current backup Brian Hoyer entering his second season, it appears he, an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, could be the next value under center.

Hoyer played sparingly in five games as a rookie last season, and as the No. 2 quarterback prepares to serve as security should anything happen to Brady, his comfort on the field is quite apparent. He’s certainly outshone rookie Zac Robinson and has developed a sense of familiarity with the receivers on the roster.

“For me, it’s just that I can go in there and rattle off a play this year, whereas last year I was just trying to spit it out word-by-word,” Hoyer said Monday. “Now, it’s just I hear it and it automatically means something to me, whereas last year I had to kind of think about it a little bit.”

Things weren’t always so cool for Hoyer, who can still recall the first time he met Brady. Introducing himself to one of the game’s all-time greats and his future mentor wasn’t easy to do.

“I was in the room and he just walked in and was like, ‘Hi, I’m Tom,'” Hoyer recalled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I know.'”

Now that they’ve had over a year to get to know one another, Brady and Hoyer seemed to have developed quite the rapport, something director of player personnel Nick Caserio has noticed. The two even have an ongoing competition in what they refer to as the “bucket drill,” which consists of the quarterbacks trying to sink passes into an empty barrel from varying distances.

“He’s been huge for my development just by watching him and asking questions and learning from him. He’s really helped me out and he really hasn’t even had to do anything,” Hoyer said. “He’s just been a good teammate, a good mentor. I watch him practice and I ask him questions. I’ve learned a lot just by doing that.”

Surprisingly, Hoyer has actually had Brady’s number when it comes to the bucket drill, sinking three passes to Brady’s goose egg. For someone with such a high level of comfort on the field and a player that has looked very strong in camp — let alone the fact that he came from a pro-style offense — it’s surprising that he was passed over by every team in the draft.

“Obviously, we didn’t draft him either, but it’s just the way it works out sometimes,” Caserio said. “Some players get drafted, some players aren’t drafted. I can’t really tell you why or why he didn’t. We’re just happy he’s here on the club.”

Now that he is in the club and appears to have a stranglehold on the No. 2 job, it isn’t particularly hard to see why. He rarely makes mistakes in practice and is generally with Brady at all times on the field, even when Robinson isn’t.

Caserio spoke highly of Hoyer’s instincts Monday while also complimenting the young quarterbacks ball placement and decision-making. Though Hoyer isn’t the type to rave about his own attributes on the field, he’ll take the praise when it comes to the placement of his passes, especially if they’re headed in the direction of a blue barrel.

“I know it’s killing [Brady] that he hasn’t hit one of those bucket shots yet and I have, so I make sure I remind him every now and then,” Hoyer said with a grin.

At the end of the day, the relationship with Brady — even if it’s in competition (he noted the two have yet to butt heads over their respective schools) — is one that Hoyer views as being incredibly valuable to his progression, and he’s not willing to let it go unnoticed.

“The best thing about being the backup for Tom Brady is learning from Tom Brady, in my opinion the best in the league,” Hoyer said. “Whether it’s us working on our footwork or us doing our bucket drill over there, or watching film or just watching him practice, I think that’s just the most important thing I can get from being his backup.”

Read More: Brian Hoyer, training camp,



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