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5 quarterbacks Patriots could potentially bring in following Jimmy Garoppolo injury 09.18.16 at 7:17 pm ET
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Could Ryan Lindley potentually return to New England following the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo? (Stew Milne/USA Today Sports)

Could Ryan Lindley potentially return to New England following the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo. (Stew Milne/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — While the Patriots opted not to bring in a fourth quarterback during training camp, it looks like they will be forced to add one now with Jimmy Garoppolo suffering a shoulder injury in Sunday’s win over the Dolphins.

The injury will reportedly keep him out of Thursday’s game against the Texans at minimum, so the team will likely need someone to backup Jacoby Brissett with Tom Brady being suspended the first four games.

New England will likely need a quarterback for the next two weeks until Brady comes back in Week 5, as at least as of now, it doesn’t look like Garoppolo will be ready before then. Once Brady comes back, that quarterback will be let go as the team cannot carry four quarterbacks at the same time.

(For what it’s worth, Julian Edelman was almost certainly the emergency quarterback the last two weeks and would have gone in Sunday if Brissett got injured.)

Here are five quarterbacks the Patriots could bring in for the next two weeks.

1. Ryan Lindley

Lindley was with the Patriots last preseason as the team didn’t know would happen with Brady in terms of the Deflategate case. He played in the entire final preseason game against the Giants and went 22-for-45 for 253 yards with one interception and a late fumble. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 draft by the Cardinals. Lindley is most known for starting in the 2015 playoffs when Drew Stanton was injured late in the year and Carson Palmer was injured earlier that year. After being released by the Patriots last summer, he signed on with the Colts, but never appeared in a game. Lindey might be the best option given he already has a good grasp of the offense from his time with the team last summer.

2. Matt Flynn

Flynn may be the best backup available on the market. In 51 career games, mostly with the Packers, Flynn has completed 61 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He started against the Patriots in a 2010 game with the Packers and in that game he went 24-for-37 with 251 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Patriots know how good he can be, as they brought him in last summer before Lindley, but he didn’t pass his physical.

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Read More: Brian Hoyer, Josh Freeman, Matt Flynn, Ricky Stanzi
Former Patriots backup QB Brian Hoyer reflects on what it’s like to learn from Tom Brady 08.17.16 at 1:11 pm ET
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Brian Hoyer returned to Foxboro this week. (Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports)

Brian Hoyer returned to Foxboro this week. (Patrick Gorski/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Not many players on the practice field this week were more popular than Brian Hoyer.

After all, the Bears backup quarterback spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the Patriots backing up Tom Brady from 2009-11.

Hoyer said learning from Brady was one of the biggest things that got him ready once he finally got his chance to start 14 games for the Browns in 2014.

“You just have to sit there and watch,” Hoyer said. “That’s the biggest thing. He’s also a guy who goes out of his way to help, but I think for me I remember those years just trying to sit back and watch and soak up everything. Whether it was in the meeting room, on the field, training, whatever it might be, he’s such an intense competitor. If you can soak it all up, you just gain it by being around him.”

At the same time, Brady is much more advanced than any other quarterback in the league, so Hoyer said there were times he needed to stop Brady and ask him to explain exactly what he was seeing.

“At some point you have to stop and say, ‘Hold on, how are you seeing this? How did you know?’ I remember that was a question, like how did you know that was going to be the coverage?” Hoyer said. “He said how it’s years and years and there’s definitely times where you have to stop and ask him how are you even knowing to take the ball here or check this play, but a lot of it was just seeing him operate. The intensity, demanding so much out of his teammates, that type of thing.”

The 30-year-old also reflected on Brady as a person and how welcoming he was to him as a rookie in 2009, treating him like someone who he had been around his whole career. The two still stay in touch to this day and are good friends.

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Read More: 2016 training camp, Brian Hoyer, Tom Brady,
What direction could Patriots take if they want to add QB depth? 04.25.16 at 4:07 pm ET
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Could Brian Hoyer end up back in New England? (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

So what happens with the Patriots at quarterback if Tom Brady is forced to sit for the first four games of the 2016 season? At this point on the calendar, Plan B is backup Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois who has seen limited action to this point in his career, but is maybe best described as solid at this point in his development.

But if the Patriots aren’t completely enamored with Garoppolo’s overall development or if they simply want to expand their depth at the position while waiting for Brady to return, they do have some other options. With the draft looming at the end of the week and a handful of bodies still available in free agency, here are a few possibilities for New England at the quarterback spot.

(One thing to remember: When the Patriots draft a quarterback or sign one as an undrafted free agent later this spring, it shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a wide-ranging referendum on Garoppolo. Only one team has drafted more quarterbacks since 1999 than New England, and that doesn’t even begin to take into account the various free agents — both undrafted and otherwise — that have been added to the Patriots’ roster over the years. Bottom line? They get a quarterback every spring. The context may have changed because of Monday’s announcement, but they’ll follow the same routine this time around.)

Brian Hoyer: The 30-year-old was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State in 2009, and served as a backup to Brady from 2009-11. Along the way, he saw action in 13 games, going 27-for-43 (63 percent) with 286 passing yards and a touchdown. Hoyer has since played in Arizona, Cleveland and Houston, but was cut loose by the Texans earlier this offseason. In his career he’s made 26 starts, completed 58 percent of his passes for 7,163 yards to go along with 38 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions. His familiarity with the scheme and coaching staff, plus the fact that he’d come relatively cheaply, make him a legitimate option in this instance.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: You know he went to Harvard, right? The bearded one is still on the market because the Jets have been playing a game of high-stakes chicken with the 33-year-old, who has played for Buffalo, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Houston, Tennessee and the New York Jets over the course of his career. Last season in North Jersey, he completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,905 yards, to go along with 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The chances here are extremely unlikely, as he’s likely looking for more security in the form of a long-term deal and a payday commensurate with his decent year last season.

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Read More: Brian Hoyer, Cody Kessler, Dake Prescott, Deflategate
Scouting Report: What you need to know about Patriots-Texans 12.12.15 at 3:56 pm ET
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Tom Brady will face a sizable challenge this week in the Houston pass defense. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tom Brady will face a sizable challenge this week in the Houston pass defense. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Here’s everything you need to know when the Patriots (10-2) take on the Texans (6-6) Sunday night at NRG Stadium in Houston:

WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL

Who knows? There’s been no rhyme or reason as to how the Patriots have approached the running game the last two contests, which means it’s anybody’s guess as to how it’s going to shake out this week. For what it’s worth, LeGarrette Blount (155 carries, 650 yards, 6 TDs, 4.2 yards per carry), Brandon Bolden (19 carries, 59 yards, 3.1 ypc) and James White (15 carries, 39 yards, 1 rushing TD) will get the work on the ground, but who knows how much that will be. On paper, the ground game figured to be a relatively good matchup against both Denver and Philly, and for whatever reason, the Patriots didn’t spend much time running the ball. It’s not clear if it was an issue with the backs, or a lack of faith in the offensive line when it comes to run blocking, or a lack of faith in the overall execution across the board, but for key stretches as of late, the New England offense was fundamentally one-dimensional. On the other side of the ball, Houston is 21st in the NFL in run defense, having yielded an average of 114.1 rushing yards per contest. That suggests that the Texans might be more vulnerable than most when it comes to slowing Blount, Bolden and White, but Houston’s run defense numbers have been up and down all year long. There were four games where the Texans allowed 135 yards or more, including an astounding 187 yards on the ground in a loss to the Bills last week. Of course, there were four games where they held opponents to under 75 rushing yards. Bottom line? It’s an offense that hasn’t made a commitment to running the ball as of late against a defense that has been inconsistent when it comes to slowing the run. It’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen Sunday.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL

This is the biggest and most important matchup of the evening. Can Tom Brady (64 percent completion rate, 3,912 passing yards, 31 TDs, 6 INTs, passer rating of 102.8) overcome the fact that he’ll be without Julian Edelman and (likely) Rob Gronkowski once again, as he goes up against the third-best pass defense in the league? The Texans allow just 218.3 passing yards per game, thanks in large part to the work of defensive lineman/all-star pitchman J.J. Watt and his ability to get after the quarterback. Watt leads the league with 13.5 sacks, but many of the Texans do an excellent job of playing off him and taking advantage of when he commands double teams. Guys like linebacker Whitney Mercilus (6.5 sacks) and old pal Vince Wilfork (who is coming off his best game of the season against the Bills) do well when Watt gets the bulk of attention. Meanwhile, Houston will rely on cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph and safeties Andre Hal and Quintin Demps on the backside to try and slow Brady. For the Patriots, it’ll be Danny Amendola 56 catches, 73 targets, 582 yards, 3 TDs), Brandon LaFell (25 catches, 56 targets, 369 yards), Scott Chandler (23 catches, 41 targets, 259 yards, 4 TDs) and White (22 catches, 32 targets, 210 yards, 2 TDs) who will be charged with getting the New England passing game through another week without its leading options. One more thing: it’ll be interesting to see what sort of role ex-Houston receiver Keshawn Martin (10 catches, 16 targets, 148 yards, 1 TD) might play on Sunday. When he’s been healthy, he’s delivered a nice dose of quickness to the Patriots’ passing attack. His working knowledge of how the Texans’ defensive backs operate could be an interesting wrinkle.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Brandon LaFell, Brian Hoyer
Matt Patricia raves about Brian Hoyer: ‘This is a very competitive player’ 12.08.15 at 9:19 pm ET
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Brian Hoyer has led the Houston Texans back into the AFC South playoff chase. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Brian Hoyer has led the Houston Texans back into the AFC South playoff chase. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

For three years, Matt Patricia had the chance to see Brian Hoyer up close and personal as he backed up Tom Brady in New England.

While the undrafted quarterback out of Michigan State saw limited action action in his three seasons starting in 2009, Hoyer showed enough to Patricia, then a linebackers coach, to make a lasting impression.

Hoyer worked every day in practice as scout quarterback to not only be ready physically, but be prepared mentally. Hoyer was the quarterback who was called into the 2009 season finale as a rookie in the middle of the second quarter. He readiness showed as he was 8-of-12 for 71 yards in the game infamous for the Wes Welker ACL injury in the first half. In three years with the Patriots, Hoyer appeared in 13 games, completing 27-of-43 passes for one touchdown and one interception.

Now, he’s quarterbacking the team he faced on that January Sunday in 2010. Despite a 30-21 loss last week to the Bills, Hoyer has helped the Texans to 6-6 record, good enough for a first place tie with the Colts atop the AFC South. Hoyer has completed 61.2 percent of his passes, throwing 18 touchdowns and six interceptions.

“I think just even knowing Brian Hoyer and being around him, this is a very competitive guy,” Patricia said. “This guy is a guy that goes out on that field every single moment he’s out there expecting to win, whether it takes all the time on the clock or they get an early lead, whatever it is, this is a very competitive player. He’s a very smart player. He studies extremely hard. He understands looks, disguises, coverages, fronts. He’s going to get the offense into the best play possible. And he’s going to be smart with the football.”

Hoyer’s mental toughness and leadership has been on clear display all season, starting with Week 2, when he was surprisingly benched by Bill O’Brien for Ryan Mallett against Atlanta. Hoyer had to stand on the sideline and be supportive until his next opportunity came.

When the team was getting throttled early in the season, like when they trailed 42-0 after three against the Falcons and 41-0 at halftime to the Dolphins, it was Hoyer keeping things together. Houston started off 2-5 before going on a four-game winning streak. This is the first time Hoyer, who is 24-17 as a starter in the NFL, is going against the team that gave him his first shot in the NFL.

“I would say the biggest thing that they’re doing recently, and what they’ve done in the last five weeks or so is really just settling the game down. He’s settled the game down with the run. He’s making quick and smart throws, good decisions with the football. He’s not turning the ball over. He doesn’t hold it very long. He gets the ball out quickly. He doesn’t allow the pressure to get there. He does a great job with the protection, understanding schemes from a defensive standpoint and how to protect himself, knowing when he’s protected and when he’s not, and where he has to get the ball to if he’s not [protected].”

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Read More: Brian Hoyer, houston texans, matt patricia, New England Patriots
5 things to know about Texans: J.J. Watt, Houston still part of AFC playoff picture 12.07.15 at 9:55 pm ET
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J.J. Watt and Bill O'Brien will lead the Texans into Sunday's contest against the Patriots. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

J.J. Watt and Bill O’Brien will lead the Texans into Sunday’s contest against the Patriots. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Five things you have to know about the Texans (6-6), who will host the Patriots (10-2) Sunday night at NRG Stadium in Houston.

1. After a really rough start, they’ve turned things around.

They’re not an overwhelming bunch by any means, but considering the fact that the Texans on the periphery of the postseason picture, it’s an impressive feat, given where they were a month into the season. Houston started 1-4, and was beset by injury and ineffective quarterback play. But thanks to a substandard AFC South, some occasionally steady play on the part of quarterback Brian Hoyer and the work of an impressive pass defense, the Texans have nosed their way into the playoff picture with five wins in their last seven games. That stretch includes a 10-6 win over the Bengals on Nov. 16, the first loss of the year for Cincinnati. It’s as good a time as any to hail the work of former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who was able to keep a leaky ship together during a rough stretch and still guide them to a .500 record after 12 games. They may not make the playoffs, but given the instability under center, if they are able to finish the season .500, it’ll represent a nice stretch for O’Brien and the rest of his staff.

2. J.J. Watt has to be accounted for on every play.

Not really breaking news here, but after a relatively slow start, Watt has come on like gangbusters as the Houston defense has really started to round into form. The Wisconsin product leads the NFL in sacks with 13.5, and plays a sizable role in the fact that the Texans come into Sunday’s game as one of the best teams in the league when it comes to defending the pass. Houston is the third-best team in the league when it comes to slowing air attacks, having yielded just 218.3 passing yards per game. (Weirdly, only one quarterback — Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles — has accounted for more than 300 passing yards in a game against the Texans.) Much of that is because of Watt’s ability to get after the quarterback and force some bad throws. With the issues along the interior of New England’s offensive line, slowing Watt will be priority one for the Patriots. Expect New England to try and utilize multiple blockers in trying to contain the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Watt, who certainly has the capability of ruining a game for Tom Brady and the Patriots.

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Read More: Alfred Blue, Bill O'Brien, Brian Hoyer, Chris Polk
Fantasy Football: Week 13 starts, sits 12.04.15 at 9:20 am ET
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It’s money time for fantasy owners. If you are reading this article, you are either very bored or, more likely, you are playing for your life this week — or at least a better playoff seed. Maybe you need a win to get a Week 14 bye. Yes, things are getting serious, and I’ll be around the next few days if you are in need of  some help or a second opinion.

Jim Hackett and I will be doing a podcast later Friday and it will be all about Week 13. That will continue on Sunday morning with the this week’s edition of the Fantasy Football Hour. And, as always, I will be ready for your lineup questions when I host our Sunday morning chat at 11 a.m., so head on over if you want a little clarity. I will tweet a link to the chat when it becomes available on Sunday morning.

QUARTERBACKS

Start

Jay Cutler, Bears vs. 49ers

Cutler is a good Week 13 option at home in a plus matchup with his key weapons ready to go. He’s come up light the last few games, but this week projects to be different. He’s a fringe QB1 option, and you still can add him in more than half of Yahoo! leagues.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jets at Giants

Fitzpatrick has been about what you would expect as a quarterback so far, but his stats have been a little better than expected and there are two key reasons for this. They are Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Both veteran receivers are playing very good football, and it’s making the little bearded quarterback a viable fantasy play when the matchup is right. This most certainly is one of those weeks, as the Giants defend the pass poorly yet handle the run pretty well.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins vs. Ravens

It’s the matchup. The Ravens can play the run but have serious weaknesses in pass defense. While I expect the new regime in Miami to run more consistently than the last, I also expect the Dolphins to scheme for the defense in front of them, not generically. The way to move the ball against Baltimore is by throwing. Expect volume and a decent fantasy outing.

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Read More: Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill
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