HOUSTON - Quarterback Brian Hoyer is facing the realities of a second diagnosed head injury in 30 days and bracing with dread for any potential long-term issues his latest concussion might bring.
On Nov. 25 during his first practice back after being cleared under the NFL concussion testing protocol, Hoyer discussed the realities of dealing with concussions.
"You're not getting back out there until you're totally cleared," Hoyer said. "Probably if I was younger, I'd have been more brazen and stupid about it, but I've got two young kids. You hear the horror stories. My wife told me, 'I'm actually proud of the way you're dealing with it.'
"You have to follow the standards and let (independent NFL neurologists) make the right decision. They're as serious as a heart attack about it, and I'm thankful. Had I kept playing and gotten another (concussion), when they're really close together, that's when they say it can get bad."
Having coached Hoyer since his rookie season with the Patriots, O'Brien has a close relationship with Hoyer, who came into the league as an undrafted free agent. O'Brien said his thoughts Sunday night, when Hoyer was roughed up by the New England Patriots, went to Hoyer the husband and father, not the starting quarterback.
"Whenever you suffer a concussion like that, multiple concussions within a five- or six-week span, obviously the player himself is concerned about that," Texans coach O'Brien said. "Nobody is more concerned than I am because of my relationship with Brian and his family."
For Hoyer, the matter goes beyond one game.
Concerns about Hoyer for the remainder of the season have heightened into a long-term issue due to the severity and frequency of the concussions.
Hoyer remained under the NFL concussion protocol Monday. Hoyer suffered the fifth concussion of his life and the second of his career against the Patriots when he was visibly shaken up while being sacked five times and was taken to the locker room for examination.
"I would say it'd be doubtful that he would play in the game on Sunday," O'Brien said of Hoyer. "It wasn't just a concussion. I think he strained his neck. He had a wrist problem. He took a beating. I think they were checking him out for all various injuries."
This marks the second time this season Yates has been forced to start with Hoyer sidelined due to a concussion. Until Hoyer is able to pass a mandatory baseline neurological exam, he'll be out of the lineup under NFL rules governing concussions.
Yates won a start against the New York Jets with Hoyer out with the concussion. He also rallied the Texans to a win against the Cincinnati Bengals the previous week when Hoyer was forced out of the game and experienced memory loss.
Hours after the loss to New England, Yates began watching tape of the Colts from the Texans' October loss to start getting ready.
"I'm just going to prepare like I always do every single week and just get ready to play, if that needs to be," Yates said Monday inside the Texans' locker room. "I hope Brian is OK, I hope he's doing all right, but I'll be ready to play."
Against the Bengals, Yates delivered a game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins when Hoyer experienced memory loss and left the game. Against the Jets, Yates completed 16 of 34 passes for 229 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for an 89.0 passer rating.
"He's a smart guy, he works very hard at it," O'Brien said of Yates. "He prepares like he is the starter. I think we have a good guy there to step in because he's a pro and he's got really good poise. He's a bright guy, told the team that. I told the offense that, too. We have a lot of confidence in T.J."