In first career NFL start, Ryan Mallett will be playing against a familiar face, his former Patriots teammate Brian Hoyer. The two spent 12 hours a day together in New England's quarterback room and on the practice field.
"Strongest arm I've ever seen and I mean it when I say that," Hoyer said of Mallett in a conference call Wednesday.
Mallett believes he has another weapon that is stronger.
"I think my football IQ is probably my biggest asset," Mallett said. "You can always improve. You can never be complacent."
Mallett and Hoyer spent one season together in New England, both quarterbacks behind Tom Brady. During their 2011 Super Bowl run with New England, Mallett, and Hoyer were part of an undefeated Patriots team. Hoyer left following in 2012 and joined the Arizona Cardinals before becoming the Browns starter in 2013. Mallett remained in New England until he was traded to Houston on August 31.
During their time together, Mallett recalls Hoyer as a teammate who was always approachable.
"He helped me when I asked questions and he was very welcoming," Mallett said. "He wasn't trying to hide anything. He was a good teammate."
The two also worked under a pair of Texans coaches in New England. Head coach Bill O'Brien, who was the Patriots offensive coordinator in his last season with New England, brought George Godsey, the Texans quarterbacks coach, on the staff as an offensive assistant.
Now three years later, two starting quarterbacks, one head coach, and one quarterbacks coach will be reunited in Cleveland on Sunday.
"Anything's possible in football, I can tell you that," O'Brien said. "It's just the way it goes. It's pretty interesting though. I read somewhere that this was labeled 'The Brady Backup Bowl' or something like that. These guys are starters now."
On Sunday, the (4-5) Texans travel to Cleveland to face the (6-3) Browns with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m. on CBS KHOU-11 and SportsRadio 610.