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Brian Hoyer to start at QB for Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns spent the offseason touting a quarterback competition between Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell that, from the start, felt like a mirage.

That's exactly what it was.

With Weeden sidelined by a sprained thumb, coach Rob Chudzinskiannounced Wednesday that Brian Hoyer, not Campbell, will start Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Hoyer, listed as the Browns' third-string passer, will make just his second NFL start. Last December, he started in a 27-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.

Hoyer was signed in the offseason to pad Cleveland's quarterback room. For anyone following the team closely, his arrival felt inevitable.

The former New England Patriots quarterback is a favorite of new general manager Michael Lombardi, who during his tenure with NFL Network repeatedly touted Hoyer as a starter-in-waiting. Before Chudzinski was brought aboard, coaching candidates Ray Horton, Ken Whisenhunt and Bill O'Brien each told Browns' brass they would add Hoyer to the roster if they landed the gig.

If Wednesday's quarterback decision wasn't Lombardi's alone, his voice undoubtedly has been heard. An offseason of whispers suggesting the Browns would trade for Ryan Mallett never materialized, but the GM's fondness -- more accurately, his fetish -- for Patriots backups is all over this move:

Add it all up, and Campbell's demotion is no surprise. He is what he is. A strong-armed passer with accuracy issues who struggles to generate points. Hoyer, if nothing else, brings a dash of mystery to the role.

Besides, Chud hinted this was coming. After Weeden was hurt in Sunday's 14-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the coach said Monday that both backups were in the running to take over.

That opened the door for Hoyer to hopscotch Campbell, who must wonder today what his future holds in Cleveland.

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