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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Former Shadle Park quarterback Brett Rypien is competing to back up a Super Bowl champ — again

Former Denver Broncos quarterback and Shadle Park High graduate Brett Rypien warms up before the game against the New York Jets in Denver on Oct. 23.  (Tribune News Service)
By Ron Counts Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Former Shadle Park High and Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien has found himself living in a new city and learning a new playbook, but he’s still in a familiar situation.

The Los Angeles Rams signed Rypien to a one-year deal last month. The 26-year-old is competing to back up Matthew Stafford, who led the Rams to the Super Bowl LVI title in 2022 but missed eight games last season because of injuries.

Rypien spent the past four seasons in Denver after he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He had to win a camp battle against 36-year-old Josh Johnson last season to earn the right to back up another Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Russell Wilson, who spent the first nine years of his career in Seattle before being traded to the Broncos.

The difference for Rypien, as the Rams head into the final phase of organized team activities next week, is that he’s the elder statesman this time.

“Whatever my role is, if my number is called, I want to be playing the best possible football for the L.A. Rams,” Rypien told reporters on May 17. “There are a lot of smart offensive minds here that I’m going to be able to be around and learn from every day. It’s a great opportunity.”

In Los Angeles, he will be in competition with a pair of rookies: Stetson Bennett, who led Georgia to back-to-back national championships, and Dresser Winn, an undrafted free agent from UT Martin.

Rypien played in eight games during his time in Denver and went 2-1 in three starts, two of which came last season. He has completed 61.5% of his passes and thrown for 778 yards and four touchdowns in his career, with eight interceptions.

His experience is showing on the field, Rams coach Sean McVay said.

“You can see a guy that’s been in a similar system, has a good command and great demeanor in the huddle, and it’s been fun,” McVay told Sports Illustrated.

Bennett said Rypien hasn’t let the competition stop him from offering advice.

“Just little questions about footwork here on play fakes or handoffs, stuff like that, he’s already had those questions and heard it from different offenses, as well as this one,” Bennett told USA Today. “But yeah, Brett’s been a huge help.”

Rypien said being a mentor and a teammate go hand-in-hand with being a competitor.

“I want him to be able to pick stuff up from me because this is my fifth year in the league now and I think it is important to pass on knowledge you’ve gained through the years,” Rypien said. “I think that makes everyone better.”

Rypien said he signed with Los Angeles because of his familiarity with the Rams’ system and the team’s success under McVay.

“Obviously, last year didn’t go the way they wanted it to, but I can tell just from being here the first few days that it’s a winning culture,” Rypien said. “They’re ready to win right now.”

The structure of the Rams’ offense is similar to what he ran in Denver, Rypien said. He also said it’s a scheme he has spent a considerable amount of time studying the past few years.

“Being a backup the last couple years, I’ve gotten to do projects for coaches during the week, and this was one of the teams I always liked to study,” Rypien said. “I always appreciated what (McVay) does on offense. Now being here, it confirms everything I thought about how simple yet complex it is.”

Rypien, a native of Spokane, said he’s also excited to reunite with wide receiver Cooper Kupp, of Yakima and Eastern Washington University. Rypien said they’ve known each other for about seven years and would get together for workouts when they were home for summer break in college.

Rypien was a four-year starter at Boise State, from 2015 to 2018. He was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year in 2018 and ended his college career ranked No. 2 in program history in career passing yards (13,581), passing touchdowns (90) and completions (1,036).

Kupp set program records at EWU with 428 receptions, 6,464 receiving yards and 73 touchdown catches between 2012 and 2016. The Rams picked him in the third round of the 2017 draft.

“There aren’t that many guys in NFL from Eastern Washington,” Rypien said. “(Kupp) texted me when I signed, and he’s been very cool about it.”