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Brian Hoyer 'back to business as usual' after receiving Mike Pettine's vote of confidence


Even amid a decision as important and trying as the one Mike Pettine and his staff had to make this week, a moment surfaced when he and Brian Hoyer could share a laugh about the Groundhog Day moment they experienced when they met Wednesday.

"We both joked this is like deja vu, kind of," Hoyer said.

Hoyer, who received confirmation from Pettine he was still the Browns' starting quarterback, was happy to repeat history on this particular day. He just doesn't want to go through it again any time soon.

Bouncing back from a rough, three-game stretch that's seen him throw six interceptions and watch from the sidelines for the final two series in the Browns' loss at Buffalo will certainly help, and Hoyer was the first to admit it.

"Obviously, I have to play better," Hoyer said. "Just get back to what we do best.

"I've been through a lot. It's just one more thing to handle some adversity. I know it only makes you stronger. I said I'd be back here Wednesday and get ready for Indy and it's back to business as usual."

The past few days felt familiar for Hoyer because some of the circumstances were similar to what he went through in August.

Though he led the Browns to three wins and no losses before injuring his knee last season, Hoyer had little certainty about his future as the team's starting quarterback through most of training camp. Cleveland drafted Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick and pitted him against Hoyer in a competition that didn't end until the third preseason game.

Hoyer hadn't been playing his best, but Pettine viewed him as the Browns' best option to start the season. Hoyer reciprocated by performing well through most of the first half of the season and helped position the team in the thick of the AFC playoff race with four games to play.

His past three games have been a struggle, just like the first two in the preseason, but Hoyer was adamant about the confidence he carried heading into Sunday's showdown against the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium.

"We've done it before," Hoyer said. "This is the NFL, not every week is going to be easy. You're going to play tough teams. It's not something we haven't done before. It's not something I haven't done before. I have total confidence in myself and my teammates and our offense. We just need to get back to what we do best.

"When we're on, we're on."

Pettine cited Hoyer's experience, both in games and on the practice field, as one of the main reasons why he stuck with Hoyer rather than giving Manziel his first career start at such a pivotal moment in the season. In his conversations with some of the Browns' veteran leaders, Pettine heard "more positives about Brian than anything else."

Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas confirmed as much Wednesday, as he offered strong support to Hoyer because of what he's done to put the Browns a few wins away from their first playoff appearance in 14 years.

"To know that your teammates stand up on the table for you and respect you, that means the world to me," Hoyer said. "To work so hard to get to where we're at, I want to see this thing through. I want to finish this strong and not just for myself but for the guys in here that I've worked with – blood sweat and tears – for however many months. To know that those guys stood up for me means a lot."

Hoyer said he's joked with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan about how he responded the last time Manziel played. After the rookie received three snaps of work in the second quarter of Cleveland's home opener against the New Orleans Saints, Hoyer returned to action with some fire in his belly. He led the Browns to a comeback victory by completing 8-of-11 passes for 78 yards on a drive that ended with a game-winning field goal.

Pettine indicated Wednesday a special Manziel package wouldn't be out of the realm of possibilities against the Colts.

Hoyer's reaction? Bring it on.

"I think I always have a fire lit, and anytime someone questions you, I think you want to go out and prove them wrong," Hoyer said. "I'm sure there have been people questioning me all along, not just this week, through the entire season. That's something that I've always had a chip on my shoulder. I don't want to say it adds something else. I think I've always had it."

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