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Rams’ offense will have a different look if Brett Rypien starts at quarterback

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) hits Los Angeles Rams quarterback Brett Rypien (11) as he throws the ball during the second half Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.   (Tribune News Service)
By Gary Klein Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Quarterback Brett Rypien spent the first eight weeks of the Rams’ season taking second-team reps behind starter Matthew Stafford.

That meant rarely working with star receiver Cooper Kupp and other starters such as Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell.

But with a potential starting role against the Green Bay Packers looming, Rypien this week is working with the first-team offense.

“Nice to get some reps, finally, with those guys,” Rypien said after practice Wednesday.

Rypien, 27, appears on track to fill in for Stafford, who is nursing a right thumb sprain suffered during the Rams’ 43-20 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

Stafford did not practice Wednesday, but coach Sean McVay would not rule him out against the Packers.

“You give him up until right before the game,” McVay said.

That might just be gamesmanship for McVay, whose staff is scheming against Packers coach Matt LaFleur, a former Rams assistant who is the brother of Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

Regardless, Rypien is preparing to start.

“That’s what you do all the time, but especially when a guy is dealing with an injury and he’s not practicing,” Rypien said. “It definitely heightens the level of awareness, and you’re getting ready to go.”

The Rams fortified their quarterback corps Wednesday by signing quarterback Dresser Winn to the practice squad. Winn was with the Rams through offseason workouts and training camp.

But the spotlight is clearly on Rypien, who replaced Stafford in the third quarter against the Cowboys and completed 5 of 10 passes for 42 yards.

“He’s one of those guys that you can see he’s a pro’s pro,” McVay said. “He’s always preparing himself as if he understands that there’s one situation, or he’s one snap away, from having to go into the game.”

Rypien, the nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien and who starred at Shadle Park High School and Boise State, played three seasons with the Denver Broncos before the Rams signed him in the offseason. He spent training camp and the preseason working behind Stafford and rookie Stetson Bennett.

Before the opener, Bennett was put on the noninjury football list for an unspecified issue. That elevated Rypien to the backup role.

With the Broncos, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound Rypien started three of the eight games he played. He passed for four touchdowns, with eight interceptions.

In 2020, Rypien engineered a comeback victory over the New York Jets. With the Broncos trailing 28-27 with less than 7 minutes left, he led them on field-goal and touchdown drives to win 37-28.

Moving back into a starting role does not require a change, Rypien said.

“Just try to take the same approach,” he said. “And I think that guys feed off that.”

Rypien said he would lean on Stafford and Winn as he prepares for the Packers.

“He’s been such a tremendous leader for me to learn from,” Rypien said of Stafford. “A guy that I think doesn’t get as much credit as he should for how good of a player he is, and how good of a leader he is, and how good of a guy he is.”

Nacua said he was confident Rypien would do well if called upon.

“I trust him to sit back there and rip it,” Nacua said.

Offensive lineman Joe Noteboom said Rypien was in command of the huddle.

“We’ve got to be on our game even more just to help him out and feel comfortable in the pocket,” Noteboom said. “So, it’s just heightened sense of, ‘Let’s give him a chance to succeed.’ ”

Stafford, 35, has uncommon arm talent and experience gained from 14-plus seasons in the NFL. If Rypien starts against the Packers, how will that affect McVay’s play calling?

“You know that Matthew is a unique player that can do so many special things – it’s why he’s got the resume throughout the course of his career, it’s why he is who is,” McVay said. “And so, to say that you can operate exactly the same way, I think that would be a little silly, but we do have confidence in Brett to be able to operate our offense.”