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Could Brian Hoyer help Aidan O’Connell’s development?

From one Raiders backup QB to another

Las Vegas Raiders Training Camp
Aidan O’Connell, Brian Hoyer
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders are in the midst of training camp and have two backup quarterbacks who are at very different stages in their careers. Veteran Brian Hoyer enters as the presumptive second-stringer in his 15th season and on his seventh NFL team. Meanwhile, rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell attempts to grow a mustache to look more distinguished.

Hoyer and O’Connell could be viewed as competitors seeing as the Raiders would undoubtedly like to save a roster spot if their rookie quarterback can prove that he’s ready for the backup role directly behind Jimmy Garoppolo.

However, at this point, Hoyer has likely accepted that he won’t be more than a second-stringer while O’Connell has plenty of opportunities in front of him. So, the “position battle” is less of a competition and seems more like a mentorship so far in camp.

“In the meeting room in there, it’s very, I would say, just open, and all those guys are talking back and forth and giving reminders and tips,” offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi replied when ask how much it helps to have Hoyer alongside O’Connell.

“There’s no egos in there at all, which is the best part about [it]. Brian doesn’t have an ego, Jimmy doesn’t have an ego, and Aidan is just a sponge. So, [Quarterbacks] Coach Bo [Hardegree] does a great job with those guys, and they go over everything in detail just like every position group, but I think just overall, having that communication between the whole room is great, whether it’s Brian or Jimmy to Aidan.”

Looking no further than his last stint with the New England Patriots, the 15-year veteran has experience guiding a new quarterback along. In 2021, the Patriots spent their first-round pick on Mac Jones while Hoyer was still on the roster, and Jones spoke highly of their relationship during his rookie season.

NFL: SEP 25 Ravens at Patriots
Brian Hoyer, Mac Jones
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“I think it’s really amazing,” Jones said via a quote obtained by NESN. “Brian’s been a really close friend of mine since I’ve gotten here. I know he’s older than me, and I might be closer [in] age to his son, Garrett, but he’s still a really good mentor, and he just does a great job every week. He’s super supportive of me and trying to help me in any way he can. He’s hard on me sometimes, which is good. He holds me to a high standard, and then he also has fun and enjoys the game. He’s been around for a long time.

“...Brian’s just a great example of a great team leader and a great team player. ...I’m just happy to be able to learn from him and just be in the same room as him.”

While Jones certainly had his struggles last season, he tossed for nearly 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns in year one, finishing in second place for Offensive Rookie of the Year. That’s a strong endorsement of the veteran’s mentorship skills.

So, how is Hoyer helping O’Connell along in the desert? When asked, Lombardi gave a long-winded answer that spoke highly of how the veterans have helped groom the rookie early on in camp.

“Brian has been in the league a long time, been in the system a long time. And then Jimmy has experience and a lot of playing experience both in this offense and other ones. I think Aidan is just like the other two guys you asked about before, it’s just becoming a sponge and trying to play fast and play NFL quarterback and learn the offense,” the offensive coordinator explained.

“But again, they have the same installations, but there are resources for Aidan, which is great, and I think the time he spent on it has been coming to fruition in practice. But overall, I think whenever you have veteran quarterbacks in the room, they have little nuggets to kind of give the young guys, which is great, that you can’t offer as a coach.

“As a quarterback coach, you can tell them the reads and all that stuff and give them reminders, but sometimes players have a little different tidbits to give each other, which that’s great too ... The veterans really take pride in doing that with each other, which is really fun to see ... So, overall it’s been great.”

The Raiders' first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers is a little more than a week away, so everyone will get a good look at how much O’Connell has developed and, simultaneously, how well Hoyer has done as a mentor pretty soon.