CLEVELAND (AP) — A week ago, Brian Hoyer walked out of FirstEnergy Stadium as a hometown hero.
On Thursday night, the Browns quarterback left on crutches, his right knee immobilized in a brace.
Cleveland's feel-good story is now tinged with pain.
Hoyer, the local kid who led the Browns to back-to-back wins in his first two starts, sustained a potentially serious knee injury Thursday night in a 37-24 win over the Buffalo Bills, who had rookie quarterback EJ Manuel go down with a sprained knee.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Hoyer has a sprain and will have an MRI on Friday. But the sight of Hoyer hobbling out of the locker room and the tone of many of his teammates indicated the 27-year-old could miss significant time.
"You hate to see that," said Brandon Weeden, who replaced Hoyer and rallied the Browns (3-2) to their third straight win. "I can't really put it into words, it's a tough situation."
As Hoyer slid following an 11-yard scramble in the first quarter, both of his legs were awkwardly bent when he was hit from the side by Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso just a few yards in front of Cleveland's sideline, which protested for a penalty to be called. Hoyer was in obvious pain as he was checked by Cleveland's medical personnel. He spent a few minutes on a trainer's table on the sideline before limping to the locker room for tests and treatment.
At halftime, Chudzinski told the NFL Network that he feared Hoyer had torn ligaments. He did not go that far afterward, and Chudzinski said he wanted to see the test results before making any predictions about how long Hoyer might be out.
"I don't want to be too premature," he said. "Let's find out what the status is and see what the MRI says. Obviously any time you lose a guy and he has to go out of the game, a guy that has done what he has done, it's disappointing."