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AFC notebook: Hoyer hopes to enjoy Cleveland homecoming

| Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 5:18 p.m.

Brian Hoyer will make his second consecutive start at quarterback Sunday for the Browns (1-2). If the Steelers had managed their roster a little better, he might be serving as Ben Roethlisberger's backup.

The Steelers signed the former Patriots backup after Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich were hurt in mid-November.

But even though Hoyer was seen as a significant pickup for a team that knew it wanted a different backup quarterback in 2013, the Steelers let Hoyer go once Roethlisberger was healthy, and Hoyer ended up starting for Arizona in Week 17.

Now he's back home in Cleveland, where he played for St. Ignatius High School.

He will make his first home start for his hometown team Sunday against the Bengals, a week after throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 win against the Vikings.

“He's a pro, and he understands,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said of the challenges of Hoyer playing back at home.

Bengals work on ball security

The Bengals (2-1) have seven turnovers in three games, or two fewer than the Steelers, but five — three fumbles and two interceptions — occurred as they beat the Packers, 34-30, last week.

They became the first NFL team to win after going up by as many 14 points, then trailing by as many as 16.

According to quarterback Andy Dalton, “the stress of ball security” is the key to not committing turnovers, especially fumbles.

“Keeping the ball close to you, not giving them a chance to where they can punch it out,” Dalton said. “I think that's the biggest thing.”

Ravens rue read-option

The Ravens (2-1) remember how frustrating it was as the 49ers nearly rallied to beat them in the Super Bowl behind Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 302 yards and a touchdown and ran for 62 yards and a touchdown out of the read-option system. Now the Ravens will face a version of the read-option with Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel.

“It's something we practiced regularly during the OTAs and the minicamp and training camp,” coach John Harbaugh said.

“It was something we just felt we had to get a handle on. Actually we felt we defended it pretty well last year. I think (Dean) Pees and the defensive coaches had a good handle on it, but we studied it also in the offseason. We visited colleges, and we're looking forward to the opportunity of testing out some of our theories this Sunday.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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