Hoyer's return would have added spice

As it stands now, a game between the 9-3 Patriots and 4-8 Browns this Sunday at Gillette Stadium doesn't have much sizzle. The Browns are struggling.

Had Brian Hoyer been returning to town with the Browns, it might have been a different story. The former Patriots backup energized the Browns in a starting role early in the season, leading them to two wins, before sustaining a torn ACL in an Oct. 3 game against the Bills. The Browns have won once since.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Hoyer during his Tuesday conference call.

"We obviously wish him the best. I expressed my personal feelings to him and his family," Belichick said. "He got an opportunity and he went in there and made the most of it then unfortunately suffered an injury there. Whether it’s Matt [Cassel] or Brian or those guys, as long as it doesn’t hurt us, I’m always rooting for them, and many of our other players around the league that have done well that were good Patriot players during their time here.

"We understand that’s part of the business. You develop personal relationships with them. As long as it doesn’t hurt you, I hope they do well. In Brian’s case, certainly, I know his recovery is coming along well and hopefully it will continue that way and he’ll have another opportunity. He’s a great kid, he works hard. He’s certainly paid his dues along the way. "

Hoyer's injury relates to one of the big questions facing the Browns this week: Who plays quarterback?

With Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden having sustained concussions, the club signed Caleb Hanie on Tuesday morning. Last week, the Browns signed Alex Tanney off the Cowboys practice squad.

As for the Patriots' approach, Belichick said: "We’ll just be ready for all the guys at the quarterback position. It’s not really a whole lot different than we do any week. We always prepare for all the guys that are active because we all know that could change in a hurry, regardless of how it starts."