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Mountain West’s Brett Rypien ready for first start with Broncos

Updated September 30, 2020 - 1:40 pm

Brett Rypien used to play quarterback in the Mountain West. Now he’s doing so in the AFC West.

A four-year starter and all-league player at Boise State, Rypien is making his first NFL start Thursday for the Broncos against the New York Jets. The 24-year-old relieved Jeff Driskel on Sunday in a 28-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and completed 8 of 9 passes for 53 yards and an interception.

It was enough to earn Denver coach Vic Fangio’s blessing.

“We think he deserves a chance to see what he can do here as the starter,” Fangio told reporters this week. “Other than the (interception) on Sunday — which was a bad throw and a bad read — he played pretty good in there, so we want to see if that can continue.”

Rypien, whose uncle Mark won two Super Bowls with the Washington Football team, debuted at Boise State in 2015 and had an exemplary freshman season, throwing for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns, with eight interceptions — including 469 yards and two scores in a 55-27 victory over UNLV.

He guided Boise State to a 10-3 mark in 2016 and an 11-3 mark in 2017 before capping his career as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year in 2018 with 3,705 passing yards and 30 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He also holds Mountain West records for career passing yards (13,578) and completions (1,035)

Yet Rypien wasn’t drafted in 2019 and signed as a free agent with Denver, where he’s toggled between the practice squad and active roster the last two seasons.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say (I’ve been) discouraged. I’ve always tried to take the mentality of getting better every single day,” the 24-year-old said, referencing how his uncle was on injured reserve during his first two NFL seasons.

“Having conversations with him and seeing the way he overcame adversity throughout his first two years and then being able to win a Super Bowl and be a starter for 15 years, I don’t think I ever lost hope or got discouraged,” the younger Rypien added. “I’ve just tried to get better.”

He will be the third quarterback to start a game this season for the Broncos, who are still searching for their first victory.

“That’s the main focus,” Rypien said. “Just getting the mental reps and making sure I’m dialed in on the protections and different things like that. If we can do that, then hopefully we can go out there and get the ball moving on Thursday night.”

Key injuries

Chiefs rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed broke his collarbone Monday during a 34-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City coach Andy Reid announced Wednesday. Reid did not provide a timetable for his recovery.

Sneed has started the first three games for the Chiefs and is tied for the league lead with two interceptions.

The Chargers also placed cornerback Chris Harris on injured reserve. Harris. a four-time Pro Bowl selection, injured his foot against Carolina. The injury is not considered season-ending.

1-2 … again

The Chargers are in familiar territory after losing Sunday to the Carolina Panthers. They’ve started five of the last six seasons with a 1-2 record and 12 of the last 17 dating back to 2004.

They’ll face the Buccaneers on Sunday in a matchup that pits the league’s youngest starting quarterback, Justin Herbert, 22, against its oldest, Tom Brady, 43. The two are separated by 20 years, seven months and seven days.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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