Brett Rypien will see his first NFL snaps Thursday night in Canton (Ohio), the site of the NFL Hall of Fame Game to open the 2019 preseason. His Denver Broncos will face off against the Atlanta Falcons (8 p.m. Eastern time, NBC).
He’s fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, so new head coach Vic Fangio will throw him on the field to prove himself with some snaps. The undrafted rookie is competing with fourth-year quarterback Kevin Hogan, who will start, and second-round draft pick Drew Lock. The projected starter is the recently-acquired Joe Flacco.
Rypien is the nephew of former Redskins starter Mark Rypien, the Super Bowl XXVI MVP after a 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills. He also tallied another Super Bowl triumph five years earlier as a backup over John Elway’s Broncos.
Brett was a 4-year starter at Boise State, posting a 40-13 record while tossing for 13,581 yards, 90 touchdowns and just 29 interceptions. He led those Broncos in a 2016 matchup with his uncle’s former college Washington State. Before the 31-28 home win, he expressed some reservations about playing Uncle Mark’s Cougars.
“It feels a little bit weird right now. It’s definitely a bit of a different feeling to play the team I grew up watching,” said Brett to the Seattle Times. “My uncle being a Coug, I grew up in that environment, and my mom graduated from there too, so I’ve always grown up watching the Cougs and just being around it all.”
Brett attended Shadle Park High in Spokane (Wash.), where he played baseball and football and shattered passing records, becoming the state’s career passing yardage leader (13,044 yards) and throwing 134 touchdowns. These numbers led to an offer from Washington State, just not a commitment.
The snub didn’t affect his relationship with Mark.
“We’re pretty close. That’s how I got into football,” Brett said. “Watching some of my uncle’s highlights when I was really little, about three to four years old. He’s been there for me at every level I’ve played at, and it’s nice having a guy who understands because he’s been there at so many levels.
“He was really supportive of me throughout the entire (recruiting) process. He wanted me to be a Coug, but he was going to support me wherever I went.”
How Many Snaps Will Rypien See Tonight vs. Falcons?
Fangio commented earlier in the week that he wants to see backups and fringe players on the field as much as possible to prove themselves Thursday night.
“I think the guys that benefit the most from it are the young players,” Fangio said of the early preseason games. “They’re going to get more reps. So many times, I think young players feel with the four-game schedule [that] they don’t get enough opportunities. So they’re going to get more opportunities here and get their play on tape. The good thing about being a football player [is] you don’t have to make a resume. Your resume’s on tape, and every team gets it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do right and give everybody an ample amount of reps.”
Hogan will likely see snaps through the first and second quarters, Lock in the third quarter and Rypien in the fourth. That would equate to around 12-15 snaps depending on the tempo of play. Considering this is the first game of the season, the teams will likely play sloppy and clunky, which will slow down the pace.
Rypien will be fighting an uphill battle to make the roster, as he doesn’t possess the arm strength of Lock nor the experience of Hogan. His best bet to stick in the league is to make a practice squad and improve on a daily basis.