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In training camp, Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer knows there’s more behind a throw than a number

Brian Hoyer has completed passes to 80 different targets in his NFL career.

New England Patriots Training Camp Photo by Steven Senne-Pool/Getty Images

Each throw tells a story.

And during NFL training camp, whether it is 7-on-7 in shorts and shells or 11-on-11 in full pads, those stories add up.

But Brian Hoyer knows that the statistics don’t always do.

For the 34-year-old quarterback, now in his third stint with the New England Patriots, there is context behind the out route that became an interception or the skinny post that became a touchdown. Even the checkdown to the flat that became neither.

There is information to gather that often goes beyond a 9-for-16 morning on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.

“I think this isn’t a game,” Hoyer said of camp numbers Thursday on a video conference with reporters. “This is where we’re trying to figure out our teammates. People are learning. You’re trying to see what throws you can throw to certain people. I don’t ever really consider it. Obviously, we watch the film and I watch it again by myself everyday. You just go back and you’re learning. Sometimes what you learn in training camp is what helps you figure out what you’re going to be able to do during the season.”

Some lessons learned in August won’t be taught in September.

And with a roster limit of 80 that will be reduced to 53 by then, some plays must be quantified. That is the reality for Hoyer as he competes alongside fellow Patriots quarterbacks Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and undrafted rookie Brian Lewerke.

“It’s always every day you’re going out there to obviously perform the best you can, but also figure out what you have and what you can do,” added Hoyer, who spent 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts following his release from New England. “So, I think there’s a lot that goes into it that’s, ‘All right, we have this route. I have this guy on this route. This guy’s covering him. I’m going to give him a chance on this route and see how it goes one way or the other.’ And that’s how you learn. That’s how you learn your teammates. That’s how you learn their little nuances of how they run their routes. And obviously with the rotation, we’re getting reps with everybody.”

And without preseason games to target teammates ranging from wide receiver Devin Ross to tight end Devin Asiasi, those reps naturally bring trial and error.

Hoyer has grown accustomed. In the regular season, he’s completed 873 career passes since entering the league as a rookie free agent in 2009, which ranks fourth in his draft class behind only Kansas State’s Josh Freeman, USC’s Mark Sanchez and Georgia’s Matthew Stafford.

There have been 80 different players on the receiving end for the Michigan State product.

“You’re constantly going out there with new guys and you do what you’re coached to do,” Hoyer said. “And when you get a chance to throw to a guy you’re trying to I guess kind of build that rhythm or compatibility with him, then you come back and watch it and learn from that.”