Brian Hoyer

Pats QB Brian Hoyer Exits Packers Game After Huge Hit; Rookie Takes Over

Bailey Zappe took over at quarterback in place of Hoyer in his first regular-season action

Hoyer exits Pats-Packers after huge hit; Bailey Zappe takes over originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Brian Hoyer's third start since the 2017 season lasted all of 10 minutes.

The New England Patriots' backup quarterback exited Sunday's Week 4 matchup with the Packers after taking a huge hit from Green Bay pass rusher Rashan Gary on a sack at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter.

Hoyer immediately went to the blue medical tent after the sack and later was taken to the locker room to be evaluated by an independent neurologist for a potential head injury, per CBS' Tracy Wolfson.

Hoyer was starting in place of Mac Jones, who was ruled out of Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Rookie Bailey Zappe took over at quarterback in place of Hoyer in his first regular-season action.

Zappe will be under center for the rest of the game, as Hoyer was officially ruled out with a head injury. While Zappe led all of college football in 2021 with 5,545 passing yards and 56 passing touchdowns at Western Kentucky, it's obviously not ideal that New England is down to its third-string quarterback in Week 4.

A Green Bay player, Adrian Amos, was also ruled out of Sunday's game after he was evaluated for a concussion.

Head injuries in football have been back in the spotlight recently after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa appeared to be disoriented last Sunday after taking a hard hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano late in the first half. He returned after halftime, with the team saying his instability was caused by a back injury, but Tagovailoa's quick return prompted a joint review by the NFL and NFL Players Association.

Just four days later, Tagovailoa was questionable to play in Miami's game on Thursday, but the quarterback ended up starting before another hard hit caused his head to slam against the field. His hands then appeared to freeze up in what was described as a "fencing motion."

Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field and taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He was later released and returned to Miami with the team. But many who watched the scary scene unfold on their TVs wanted to know why Tagovailoa was even allowed to play in the first place after his apparent head injury just days prior.

Before the Bengals game Thursday, Chris Nowinski, a founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation who played football at Harvard, wrote on Twitter: “If Tua takes the field tonight, it’s a massive step back for concussion care in the NFL. If he has a 2nd concussion that destroys his season or career, everyone involved will be sued and should lose their jobs, coaches included. We all saw it, even they must know this isn’t right.”

It was reported Saturday that the NFL Players Association had terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who was involved in the decision to clear Tagovailoa to return to Sunday’s game against the Bills. ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques reported that the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant made “several mistakes” in his evaluation.

Later Saturday, the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement saying they "anticipate changes" to the league's concussion protocols amid the ongoing investigation into Tagovailoa being cleared to return to last Sunday's game despite displaying gross motor instability.

"The NFL and the NFLPA agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety," a joint statement read. "The NFLPA's Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL's Head Neck and Spine Committee have already begun conversations around the use of the term 'Gross Motor Instability' and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the new protocols could go into effect as early as Week 5, with any player who displays instability not permitted to return to the game.

Sunday, Schefter, citing sources, also reported that Tagovailoa is expected to be interviewed early this week in the NFL and NFLPA's investigation into what happened last weekend. He said the investigative review is expected to take another week or two and the results are expected to be announced "almost immediately after," according to a league official.

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