FOXBOROUGH – Brian Hoyer is the No. 2 quarterback on the Patriots’ depth chart. But when it comes to helping his defense prepare for an upcoming opponent, he’s the No. 1 guy.
From week to week, Hoyer morphs into opposing quarterbacks, mimicking their mannerisms during the week so his teammates can get a feel of what Sunday will be like.
Last week Hoyer did his best Patrick Mahomes imitation, a player with an uncanny ability to extend plays with his feet, improvise on the run, and make ridiculous throws from ridiculous arm angles.
“It was fun,’’ said Hoyer, who was named one of team’s practice players of the week for his efforts. “It wasn’t a challenge at all. It was fun because I had free reign to do whatever I wanted to.’’
Hoyer acknowledged he “tried a few” of Mahomes’s unorthodox throws a week after he played the role of Philip Rivers, king of the unorthodox release.
“Last week was a little different,’’ said Hoyer. “The week before we were playing Philip Rivers, so I’m telling myself, ‘Stay in the pocket, don’t move, don’t move, don’t move.’ Then last week, [as Mahomes], the moment I didn’t see something I liked, I was moving around and just trying to make crazy throws.’’
Hoyer drew the line at trying to replicate Rivers’s shot put-like delivery.
“No, I couldn’t do that,’’ he said. “I was afraid I’d hurt my elbow.”
His teammates certainly appreciate his efforts.
“Hoyer does a good job every week of giving us a good look. He studies their quarterback to be able to give us that look and mimic it to the best of his abilities, so I definitely think he helps us tremendously,’’ said cornerback Jonathan Jones.
Hoyer enjoys his role and the 10-year veteran said it isn’t hard to adjust his playing style. For the next week or so, he’ll be a Jared Goff clone.
“It’s easy. It really is,’’ Hoyer said. “You know, last week my mind-set was, if nothing’s there, I’m going to make something happen. You know, Mahomes isn’t going to just kind of stand back there, he’s always going to try and make something happen. But for this week, [with Goff], it’s more similar to how I would normally play. And I’ve played in a similar system, so a lot of the plays I’m familiar with and so I’ll try to give the defense the best look.’’
Hoyer said his job serves more than one purpose. He’s not just getting his defense ready, he’s getting himself ready.
“To me, I always embrace it because really those are the only reps I’m going to get during the week depending on how the week goes,’’ he said. “So, whatever the defense asks me, I always try to emphasize that but I also try to be competitive as hell because I want to get myself ready to play and if I don’t go out there and try to make throws and do things, then I’m not really getting myself ready to play if I have to go in.’’
Rambling to Tech
The Patriots continue to have a healthy practice outlook, with all players on hand for Friday’s full-pads session in the fieldhouse.
The squad will hold one more practice Saturday before taking off for Atlanta. They’ll conduct their on-field preparations at Georgia Tech, where right guard Shaq Mason was a standout for the then-triple option Yellow Jackets.
“It’s definitely going to be fun – the old stomping grounds, four years of my life were there,’’ Mason said this week. “Definitely glad to see some old friends and coaches and be back. Definitely glad we’re practicing there — that will be fun.’’
Bill Belichick downplayed the notion that his club is using the loss to the Eagles in the Super Bowl last season as motivation this time around.
“Well, I think right now, this football team is this football team,’’ said the coach. “It’s not any other one and we’re going to do the best we can to perform as well as we can against the Rams. That’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s really just about us right now — there’s nothing in the past that does or doesn’t help us. We’re going to bond together and coach and play as well as we can next Sunday night.’’
All accounted for
The Patriots did not have one player listed on Friday’s injury report. For the Rams, running back C.J. Anderson (illness on Thursday) was a full participant. Punter Johnny Hekker (illness) and kicker Greg Zuerlein (left foot) did not participate in Friday’s practice. Neither did safety Blake Countess (foot), who is questionable for the Super Bowl . . . Jason McCourty’s enthusiasm has been obvious all season, but the 10-year veteran cornerback joked Friday that he might just be getting on his teammates nerves, including his twin brother, Devin, as he gets ready for his first Super Bowl. “I was telling Dev and [Duron Harmon], ‘How excited are ya’ll. We’re going to the Super Bowl. We leave on Sunday.’ And they’re like, ‘Calm down, man. Take it easy.’ That’s been my role this year. I bring a different perspective, a different type of energy, a different journey, which brings a different outlook on things. I’m embracing it. I can probably be annoying at times but they love me.’’ . . . The Patriots will hold a sendoff rally for fans at Gillette Sunday beginning at 10 a.m. Belichick and captains Tom Brady, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, Patrick Chung, James White, and David Andrews are expected to address the crowd.