BEREA, Ohio - Brian Hoyer's right knee has a long way to go before it's completely healed. He's also trying to mend a broken heart.
Hoyer, the hometown quarterback who led his beloved Browns to two straight wins before he sustained a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 3 against Buffalo, said Wednesday that he hasn't quite gotten over that fateful slide at the end of an 11-yard scramble.
"That's the most disappointing thing that's ever happened to me," he said.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament and undergoing surgery, Hoyer, who began the season as Cleveland's third-string QB, said it's been difficult to move past what happened in just his fourth NFL start, when an apparent routine play turned into a career-altering event.
On Cleveland's seventh play, Hoyer took off running and as he neared the sideline, he began to slide. As he hit the turf, Hoyer was drilled from the side by Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso. Hoyer's right cleat got caught under him and he knew right away the injury was serious.
"That's the first time I've ever been on the field where I couldn't get up on my own and so then I kind of knew that something was up," he said. "But there was no `pop' or anything like that. I just had a sensation where I tried to get up and I just told myself to stay down and let them (medical staff) come over."
The injury not only ended his season, but derailed the career backup's chance to establish himself as a full-time starter. Still, in just a three-week period, he gave the Browns and their fans a charge.
"I hope that I was able to bring a spark and get this team going," he said. "I think that was accomplished, and to me that was probably the hardest part. Things were going really well and it gets taken out right underneath you. So you know I'm looking forward to getting back whenever that might be and that's what drives me every day when I come in here."
Hoyer said the normal recovery time on his injury is six to eight months, but he's hoping to make it back sooner. He can't guarantee he'll be 100 percent by training camp in July.
"Obviously I'd like to shoot for the shorter part of that," he said of the recovery timetable. "But for me I just try to get better every day, which to this point I have, so that keeps your spirits up."
Hoyer's injury coincided with another personal major event as his wife, Lauren, gave birth to their second child, a daughter, Cameron, three days before his surgery. Also, Hoyer turned 28 on Oct. 13.
"It was a busy week at my house," he said. "I had a baby on Tuesday and surgery on Friday and a birthday Sunday. I had one of the best moments of my life with my daughter being born. I've never even had a surgery before. It's a little nerve-racking but I got through it. I came out of surgery great and now I'm on to the rehab. It's amazing how quickly things go.
"Hopefully this rehab will fly by."
Hoyer patiently waited nearly five seasons -- three as Tom Brady's backup in New England -- for his chance to start. And as he reflected on his three-week stint as Cleveland's starter, Hoyer is confident it won't be his last shot.
"It was an exciting time, which is what makes it so disappointing," he said. "But right now my main concern is getting back, rehabbing every day and also trying to stay involved with what's going on with this team. We have a great team, everybody rallies around each other and the support from this organization, from the top down, my teammates, coaches, everyone, it's really been able to keep me up."