He set records in college. Now a former Boise State QB is vying to back up Russell Wilson

Associated Press

Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was the talk of the NFL offseason when he was traded to the Denver Broncos in March, but a former Boise State quarterback found himself in the Denver spotlight once training camp began.

Wilson is going to be the Broncos’ starter as long as he’s healthy, and Brett 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 Johnson has signed a contract with. The team doesn’t have any other quarterbacks on the roster.

Boise State’s 4-year starters: Bachmeier poised to do something Moore, Rypien didn’t

Neither backup has distanced himself from the other through 10 days 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 (7 p.m., NFL Network).

“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 has flashed in camp. He capped an 11-on-11 drill 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 then 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).

The native of Spokane, Washington, still owns several Mountain West records, including career passing yards and completions, and games with at least 300 passing yards (21).