Ben Roethlisberger was back from injury and Charlie Batch would be the steady back-up again after leading Pittsburgh to a thrilling victory over rival Baltimore in 2012.
That meant quarterback Brian Hoyer, who had been with the team for just a short spell, would head back to the pool of unemployed players looking for another opportunity. Not that this move likely was met with surprise, since Roethlisberger, who had injured his shoulder a few weeks prior to that, wasn't going to be out for the entire season. Hoyer was an emergency back-up signed off the street after having been released by the Patriots in training camp.
He would eventually be signed by Arizona and finish out the year with the sinking ship that was the Cardinals that year. In a surprise move, the Cardinals protected him from free agency by placing a second-round, restricted free-agency tender on him. Hoyer would eventually be released and signed by the Browns, where he started the first few games last season.
But he tore his ACL, ending his year and, with it, earned the chance to be caught up in the Johnny Manziel Hype Machine. But all the while, Hoyer kept in mind the message given to him by defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau when Hoyer left the Steelers' facility after his release.
"When they released me and I was walking out, he said, 'It was great to have you here. If I can ever help you with anything, let me know,'" Hoyer said to the media, as captured by Post Gazette reporter Ray Fittipaldo. "I don't know if that offer is still on the table now that I'm the Browns quarterback, but what a great guy and great coach."
Hoyer is a smart, young quarterback who's quick with good quotes, making him an immediate favorite of the media. But having to face LeBeau's defense, as opposed to his pleasantries, is another matter. Quarterbacks making their first start against LeBeau in Pittsburgh are 13-28 since 2004, and the Browns are 6.5-point underdogs.
This kind of situation seems to fit Hoyer well, though. Since leaving Pittsburgh, he rolled through two different teams and had to win back his starting job despite being arguably the most successful Browns quarterback since Derek Anderson in 2007. Hoyer will be out there Sunday and, while he shouldn't expect much help from LeBeau, it goes to show how small the league is and how a player can make the most of one opportunity.