By Nate Ulrich
Beacon Journal sports writer
BEREA: Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer turned 28, his wife Lauren gave birth to their second child and he underwent surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
It all happened this week.
Hoyer underwent a successful, traditional reconstruction of a torn ACL on Friday morning at the Cleveland Clinic. No other ligament damage was discovered, and the procedure went as expected, a Browns spokesman said. Team doctors Lutul Farrow and Mark Schickendantz performed the surgery.
“Thanks everyone for thoughts and prayers,” Hoyer, who signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $1.965 million in May, wrote on Twitter Friday. “Surgery went great. Now looking forward to getting back. Can’t wait to put that orange helmet on again!”
Hoyer is expected to make a full recovery, and Browns coach Rob Chudzinski is hopeful he’ll be able to participate in organized team activities when they begin in May. It usually takes players about eight to 12 months to fully return to action after suffering a torn ACL.
“We’re hopeful in the spring that we’ll see him,” Chudzinski said. “Just knowing him, from a rehab standpoint, I know he’s going to do everything he can to get ready.”
The best recent news for Hoyer, though, is the birth of his daughter, Cameron. He and his wife also have a son, Garrett.
Hoyer, a North Olmsted native and St. Ignatius High School graduate, suffered the season-ending injury Oct. 3 during the first quarter of a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills when he slid awkwardly and hyper-extended his right knee as rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso hit him in the helmet at the end of an 11-yard gain. Hoyer led the Browns to consecutive wins in the previous two games after quarterback Brandon Weeden suffered a sprained thumb Sept. 15 against the Baltimore Ravens.
“He did a great job coming in and gave us a real spark,” Chudzinski said. “He played very well. You saw improvement every game that he played, and he was able to make plays for us and really help us in that stretch to get us going.”
Could Chudzinski tell if the Browns were on to something with Hoyer, who played two full games with the team and has four NFL starts on his resume?
“It’s always hard to say,” Chudzinski said. “It’s two games, and you never know. Obviously, what he did during that time was very impressive.”
After Hoyer was hurt, Weeden entered the game against the Bills with a 7-0 deficit and helped the Browns rally to win. But he threw two interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter on a back-handed, shovel pass, this past weekend in a 31-17 loss to the Detroit Lions. He’ll try to redeem himself Sunday when the Browns (3-3) visit the Green Bay Packers (3-2).
“I thought he’s had his best couple of days of practice here, very focused and receptive to the coaching,” Chudzinski said of Weeden. “You can see him doing things, specifically working to improve in areas that we’re talking about where he needs to improve. I am expecting him and I have confidence in him, like the team does, to go out and play his very best.”
Top pick tickled
Rookie outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo is thrilled about actor Daniel Radcliffe naming his fantasy football team “Barkevious Mingo’s Mum.” Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the popular fantasy movies, revealed the quirky fact in an interview with the New York Times magazine.
“My team name is Barkevious Mingo’s Mum,” Radcliffe told the Times. “I just think Barkevious Mingo is the greatest name I’ve ever heard, and the fact that his mum invented that name is also amazing. And in that league I have the Cleveland defense as well, and they had an amazing game the other day against Buffalo, so I’m incredibly grateful to the Cleveland defense, Barkevious Mingo and his mother.”
The sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, Mingo grinned when asked Friday about Radcliffe’s team name.
“I grew up a Harry Potter fan, love watching Harry Potter movies,” Mingo said. “I’m a Daniel Radcliffe fan. I’m a Harry Potter fan. That was just the coolest thing I’ve heard the past couple of weeks.”
Mingo said he has forgotten to ask his mother, Barbara Johnson, for her reaction.
When asked if he has sent Radcliffe a message, Mingo laughed and said, “I thought about it. I’m like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to look like a groupie.’ ”
Growing up in Brookfield, Wis., Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas was a huge Packers fan. So he’s pretty fired up about playing his first NFL regular-season game at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
“There will be a lot of people there,” said Thomas, a former standout at the University of Wisconsin. “Growing up in Wisconsin my whole life, me and the wife [Annie], we’ve got a lot of people that are friends that have season tickets that go to the games anyway.
“It’s one of the most historic legendary places to play in the NFL. So many great players that are in the Hall of Fame played there, and it’s a special place. It’s the only community-owned franchise. It’s the only stadium that’s kind of right in the middle of a community, so it’s kind of a special place to play for anybody, and it’s still special for me growing up a big fan.”
The Browns promoted wide receiver Tori Gurley and cornerback Julian Posey from their practice squad to the active roster, placed undrafted rookie safety Josh Aubrey on season-ending injured reserve with an injured ankle and waived running back Bobby Rainey, the team announced Friday.
Aubrey sprained an ankle and a knee during practice Thursday, Chudzinski said. A team spokesman said Aubrey’s injured ankle is the reason he was put on IR, though it’s not broken.
Aubrey appeared in every game this season, contributing mostly on special teams. He ran 34 yards on a fake punt against the Vikings in Week 3.
Posey’s brother, DeVier, is a rookie wide receiver for the Houston Texans and a former Ohio State standout.
Focusing on sacks
Starting left outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Browns in March, has only one sack through six games. Kruger, though, isn’t panicking.
“I’m frustrated that I don’t have more, but at the same time, I’m not concerned,” said Kruger, who tallied 13½ sacks, including 4½, last season with the Ravens. “I’m just kind of anxious. As long as our team’s winning and the defense is playing good, I’m happy. Of course, I want to have personal success as well, but what comes first and foremost is us winning games. And those things do help us win games, so it’s definitely a focus of mine. I’ve been working harder in practice to be more effective at that. But it’ll come with time.”
The Browns ruled out defensive end Billy Winn (quadriceps) for Sunday. Linebacker Brandon Magee (oblique) is listed as questionable. Running back Willis McGahee (knee), cornerback Chris Owens (finger) and outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (knee) are probable. McGahee fully participated in practice Friday after resting Thursday. He’s expected to start against the Packers. “I’m good,” McGahee said. “All systems go.” … The Packers ruled out three of their four starting linebackers: Brad Jones (hamstring), Clay Matthews (thumb) and Nick Perry (foot). Running back James Starks (knee) and tight end Ryan Taylor (knee) are out, too. Wide receiver James Jones (knee), defensive end Mike Neal (shoulder) and cornerbacks Jarrett Bush (hamstring) and Casey Hayward (hamstring) are questionable. … Chudzinski said “it was a surprise” to the Browns when team doctors discovered rookie wide receiver Charles Johnson had a torn ACL after the organization signed him off the Packers’ practice squad last week to fill Hoyer’s spot on the active roster. Chudzinski said Johnson will undergo surgery next week. … Outside linebacker Quentin Groves did not receive a fine from the NFL for his fourth-quarter hit on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford that drew a controversial roughing-the-passer penalty. Chudzinski said the Browns would send the play to the league for clarification. … As a result of his hot start this season, tight end Jordan Cameron said defenders have recently been devoting more attention to him. “The last couple of weeks we’ve seen some looks that have taken some big plays away, kind of limiting me getting up the field,” Cameron said. “The opportunity is not going to be there as much, so when we get the opportunity, we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.