TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Browns third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer will start Sunday against Minnesota in place of Brandon Weeden, who sprained his right thumb last week. Cleveland surprisingly decided to go with Hoyer over more experienced backup Jason Campbell.
Campbell came in for one series in the fourth quarter against Baltimore after Weeden injured his thumb when he banged it on a teammate’s helmet. Campbell has 71 career starts for Washington, Oakland and Chicago.
Hoyer was informed early Wednesday of the plan by first-year coach Rob Chudzinski, who will explain his decision at a morning news conference.
It’s not yet known how long Weeden will be sidelined. He has already been sacked 11 times this season.
X-rays taken after the game were negative, and Weeden underwent an MRI on Monday. Chudzinski said he would consider starting either Hoyer or Campbell in place of Weeden if his second-year starter couldn’t play.
The starting call is a dream assignment for Hoyer, who grew up in Cleveland rooting for the Browns. He signed with his hometown team in May after spending last season with Arizona.
Hoyer made one start with the Cardinals after spending the three previous seasons in New England as Tom Brady’s backup. Hoyer was third on the Browns’ depth chart all summer and inactive in Cleveland’s first two regular-season games.
The 27-year-old Hoyer started the exhibition finale after Campbell fell ill before the game in Chicago. Hoyer completed 24 of 35 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
With Cleveland’s offensive line struggling in protection this season, it’s possible Chudzinski and his assistants feel Hoyer’s mobility will give them a better chance to win against the Vikings. The Browns will also have back top wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended from the season’s first two games for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
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