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Former Shadle Park QB Brett Rypien shows flashes in Broncos camp in quest to back up Russell Wilson

Shadle Park High School graduate Brett Rypien throws during a Denver Broncos  training session at UCHealth Training Center on Aug. 17, 2020 in Englewood, Colorado.   (Getty Images)
Shadle Park High School graduate Brett Rypien throws during a Denver Broncos  training session at UCHealth Training Center on Aug. 17, 2020 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Getty Images)
By Ron Counts Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was the talk of the NFL off-season when he was traded to the Denver Broncos in March, but Brett Rypien found himself in the Denver spotlight once training camp began.

Wilson is going to be the Broncos’ starter as long as he’s healthy. Rypien, the former Shadle Park High School standout and nephew of former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, is one of just two QBs vying to be his backup.

Rypien, 26, is competing with 36-year-old Josh Johnson, who came to Denver in March. The Broncos are the 14th NFL franchise with which Johnson has signed a contract. The team doesn’t have any other quarterbacks on the roster.

Neither backup has distanced himself from nearly two weeks of training camp, Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett told reporters on Saturday, adding both will get a chance to claim the No. 2 job in the preseason. Denver will play the first of its three preseason games on Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.

“Both of those guys are doing a fine job,” Hackett told USA Today. “I don’t think anything is solidified. It’s about competition right there. ‘Ryp’ has great days. Josh does great things.”

Rypien, who starred at Boise State, has shown flashes in camp. He capped an 11-on-11 drill last Saturday with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Montrell Washington in the red zone. The fourth-year NFL signal caller has revamped his throwing mechanics and shown improved arm strength this year, according to Sports Illustrated. He ended the fourth day of training camp with a deep pass to wide receiver Kaden Davis that was on the money.

“They’ve been Russ’ shadow,” Broncos offensive coordinator Justin Outten told Sports Illustrated. “(They’re) asking all the right questions and playing the what-if game.”

Wilson was an iron man as starter for Seattle from the moment he earned the job as a rookie. From 2012 to 2020, he played through various injuries and never missed a game. But in 2021, a finger injury on his throwing hand forced him to miss three starts.

Rypien signed with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He has bounced between the practice squad and active roster, but he made the first start of his career in 2020 and led Denver to a win over the New York Jets. Rypien appeared in just one game last season.

Rypien took over as Boise State’s starting quarterback three games into his freshman season in 2015 after Ryan Finley was injured. Rypien held the job for the rest of his career, and he finished his college time ranked No. 2 at Boise State in career passing yards (13,581), passing touchdowns (90) and completions (1,036).

Rypien still owns several Mountain West records, including career passing yards and completions and games with at least 300 passing yards (21).

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