Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Thursday night in the first quarter of a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills, coach Rob Chudzinski said today during a conference call.
Chudzinski said Hoyer will undergo surgery and is out for the rest of the season.
Chudzinski told NFL Network during halftime that he feared Hoyer suffered torn ligaments. An MRI Friday confirmed the unfortunate news for Hoyer, a North Olmsted native and St. Ignatius High School graduate who guided the Browns to back-to-back wins after they started this season with a record of 0-2. Chudzinski said Hoyer didn’t suffer any other ligament or cartilage damage.
“I talked to Brian,” Chudzinski said. “Obviously he’s disappointed, but if you know him and you guys have been around him a little bit to know how he positive he is and the type of person he is. He’s already thinking about when he’s going to be back. I reassured him that as well. I wanted to let him know how much he meant to us and what he did. But he’ll be back. He’ll make it back. He’s that type of guy.”
The Browns (3-2) now have Brandon Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, and Jason Campbell at quarterback. Weeden began this season 0-2 as a starter before replacing Hoyer after he was hurt Thursday night and completing 13-of-24 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown without an interception to help the Browns prevail. Weeden, who had a passer rating of 95.3 against the Bills, sprained his right thumb Sept. 15 during a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, creating an opportunity for Hoyer to enter the starting lineup the following week.
In the wake of Hoyer’s injury, the Browns could seek reinforcements at quarterback. Chudzinski said he still needs to discuss the situation with CEO Joe Banner and decide whether the team will pursue anyone at the position.
Josh Freeman, whom the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut Thursday, is considered the top quarterback on the free-agent market. However, the Browns will not go after Freeman, a league source confirmed. Freeman, the 17th overall pick in the 2009 draft, has a record of 24-32 as a starter.
No matter what the Browns do at quarterback moving forward, losing Hoyer to a devastating injury is a huge disappointment because he energized the team upon receiving the biggest break of his five-year NFL career. In just the second and third NFL starts, Hoyer capped clutch fourth-quarter drives with touchdown passes in wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals.
“He did a great job stepping in and really showing what he can do with his opportunity,” Chudzinski said. “It was huge for us. This is disappointing. He was a big reason why we won those couple games, but not the only reason. So that’s how we look at it. Brandon, I think, stepped in and took over, and really the guys rallied around him. It was a gutsy performance, and it wasn’t always pretty. I think he was still a little bit rusty, but he got the job done and he was able to help us win that game, and obviously that was a big game for us.”
Hoyer was hurt after he scrambled and ran for an 11-yard gain with 11:13 left in the first quarter. As he attempted to slide to avoid contact, his left leg was caught underneath him and his right knee hyper-extended while Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso hit him in the helmet.
Medical personnel examined Hoyer on the field for a few moments before further checking him on a trainer’s table on the Browns’ sideline. He then walked with a limp to the locker room alongside trainers and never returned. He left FirstEnergy Stadium wearing a leg brace and using crutches after celebrating the victory with his teammates in the locker room.
Other injury updates
Chudzinski said starting right defensive end Desmond Bryant is fine and is expected to play Oct. 13 against the Detroit Lions despite being removed from the game Thursday because he experienced shortness of breath and an irregular heart beat. Bryant was taken to the Cleveland Clinic for precautionary reasons.
“He had some shortness of breath, an irregular heart beat," Chudzinski said. "So we took him to the hospital. He stayed overnight as a precaution. He’s fine. Everything is back to normal. I’m not expecting any issues going forward.”
Bryant had a similar problem last season as a member of the Oakland Raiders but played in the next game.
“We’re taking precaution and steps [to make sure] that it doesn’t happen again,” Chudzinski said.
Chudzinski said fullback Chris Ogbonnaya is going through the league’s concussion protocol. Ogbonnaya suffered a concussion when he absorbed a hit to the helmet early in the second quarter while trying to catch a tipped pass.