Brian Hoyer: Tom Brady's absence not a distraction 'in any way'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady remained away from the team's voluntary organized team activities on Tuesday, and the player who took his repetitions -- Brian Hoyer -- said it was business as usual for the team.

"No, I don't think so," Hoyer said when asked if Brady's absence was a distraction. "I'm focused on myself. I know my teammates, we're all focused on getting better each day and that's all we can do. I don't think it's a distraction in any way at all."

Hoyer and 2018 seventh-round draft choice Danny Etling of LSU were the only quarterbacks on the field during Tuesday's OTA. Director of player personnel Nick Caserio played the role of quarterback in some drills, which he's done in the past, even when Brady has been present.

Said Hoyer of Brady: "We're great friends; we talk all the time."

As the Patriots worked out behind Gillette Stadium, Brady was doing an individual workout nearby at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center, according to the Boston Herald.

Before Tuesday's practice, Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn't address Brady's absence, as Brady is the only starting quarterback in the NFL to not attend voluntary OTAs.

"I'm not going to talk about the people that aren't here," Belichick said. "Guys that are here are improving, they're working hard, and those are the guys we're going to focus on. ... It's a great opportunity for them and for our team to come together."

The group doesn't include tight end Rob Gronkowski, as he has also remained away from the voluntary work. In a similar response to a question about Brady, Belichick said he wouldn't talk about Gronkowski's absence.

Meanwhile, Belichick commended Hoyer, the 10-year veteran, by saying "he does a great job for us."

After the practice, Hoyer drew a large media crowd reflective of a starting quarterback.

"I look at it as a great opportunity to be out there, be the guy that's in charge of the huddle, lead those guys, get to know the guys that were here last year a little bit better and get to know the new guys too," Hoyer said, noting that it's not the first time he's been the top signal-caller in practice. "It's not unique at all. I've been other places where I've been the guy responsible for leading the huddle, being that guy, that presence there, the leadership, those type of things."

Meanwhile, Etling said he was simply trying to learn all of his teammates' names, although he definitely knew one already: Brady.

"Yeah, I know Tom, he's a pretty great quarterback," Etling said with a smile. "Probably the greatest of all time."