FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Although a source says New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s injured throwing hand “should be OK” for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, backup Brian Hoyer is preparing to be ready in a pinch. It’s what he always does.
“I prepare every week like I’m going to play. Whether I do or I don’t, that’s not really up to me,” Hoyer said Thursday after a practice in which he took all the reps as Brady sat out following warm-ups. “I think the one thing that I can benefit from is since I was here as the backup last time [2009-2011], I’ve played a lot of football. So I’ve been the starter on [four] different teams. I know how to prepare as the starter.
“Whether I’m getting those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I’m taking as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and think, ‘Where would I go with the football on this? Who would I make the [middle linebacker] on this play?’
“So whether I’m getting the reps or not, I’m always preparing to play, because the truth of reality is you never know when your name is going to be called. If I don’t play, it’s good for our team. If I do, then I’m ready to go.”
Hoyer drew a large media crowd Thursday, which is unusual for a backup quarterback. He deflected several questions about Brady, saying he didn’t want to speak for his close friend.
As for his own preparations, Hoyer was asked how well he knows the team’s offensive system since signing in New England as a free agent after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade on Nov. 1.
“I’m always trying to get that down. It’s a week-to-week basis,” he said. “I think the one good thing for me coming back in the middle of the season, I had a base knowledge of the system and have just tried to pick up every week after that. What we run this week may be totally different from what we ran last week. It’s kind of a week-to-week basis. Like I said, having been a starting quarterback before, I think I have a good idea on how to prepare, whether I get the reps or not.”
At the start of practice Thursday, Brady and Hoyer conversed on the field. Brady wore red gloves on both hands; he has said that he prefers not to wear gloves. Hoyer wore one glove, on his non-throwing hand, which he said he learned from Brady in 2009.
“I had never done it before and then when I got up here, he always said when it gets cold and dry out, it’s nice to have a little extra tack. So I’ve experimented with putting it on the throwing hand too, and it’s just a matter of feel,” Hoyer said. “It’s always good to practice with it in case you need it. You never know what the weather is going to be.”
Hoyer was complimentary of the Jaguars’ defense, noting that he has faced them four times in the past three years.
“Each year they seem to get a little better,” he said. “You watch them on tape and they’re playing with a lot of confidence. They have a good scheme and they play it well. I think one thing that is going to be a challenge for us is handling what they they’re going to throw at us. They have a good front, so they can get a lot of pass rush without having a lot of [extra rushers]. They play their scheme well and they’re playing very confident right now.”
The line for the AFC Championship Game has dropped to NE -7.5 at several Las Vegas sports books, including the Westgate. The Pats opened as 9-point favorites as most books.