With Russ in question, the Broncos might have to let it Ryp again.
Russell Wilson remains in concussion protocol, meaning backup quarterback Brett Rypien might be in line to make his second start of 2022, and third career start. Wilson was limited in Thursday’s practice but still could be cleared in time for the Broncos’ Week 15 game against the Cardinals, though head coach Nathaniel Hackett said No. 3’s status will be an “organization decision.”
Rypien started the Broncos’ Week 7 game against the Jets, a 16-9 loss, and also led Denver to a road win over New York in 2020. He has a 57.5 career rating, with three touchdowns to six interceptions.
The Broncos believe that with a full week of preparation, and by splitting some first-team reps with the still-recovering Wilson, Rypien could give the team a chance to snap a five-game losing streak Sunday at Empower Field.
“From an improvement standpoint, let’s get him out in practice and let’s get him back in the groove so that he can go out there and execute (on Sunday),” Hackett said. “He did a good job against the Jets. There are things that he can correct, and he knows that. We’ll see where he goes.”
Rypien was 24 of 46 for 225 yards in Week 7, and was 4 of 8 for 16 yards with an interception and a TD after coming in for Wilson in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to the Chiefs.
The interception came late in the fourth with the Broncos down 34-28, when Rypien was hit from behind by Chris Jones while looking to connect with Jerry Jeudy downfield. The pass popped up in the air like a fly ball, and was easily picked off by L’Jarius Sneed.
The possession before that, Rypien got the Broncos within striking distance with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Jeudy on fourth down, just three plays after coming in for Wilson. The throw left an impression on Hackett.
“When he comes in there and we call a pass right out the gate, he made a smart decision by throwing it out of bounds,” Hackett said. “Then he comes back on a 4th-and-7 situation and that was a dime. That was an unbelievable throw. We talked about tight windows in that area — throwing it over a linebacker and delivering it to Jerry, that is one of the hardest things to do in that situation.”
If Wilson is ruled out for Sunday, not only will Rypien start, but rookie Jarrett Guarantano will be elevated from the practice squad and serve as Denver’s backup QB. Denver signed Guarantano on Dec. 6 after Josh Johnson was claimed off waivers by the 49ers. The undrafted Guarantano spent the preseason with the Cardinals and then the first five weeks on their practice squad.
“It’s a learning-by-trial type of thing, but along the way I’m taking everything I can from everybody around me, especially all the vets like (Arizona veteran QB) Colt McCoy and now Russ,” Guarantano said. “I’ll be ready for my moment if it comes.”
Meanwhile, Hackett left the door open for Wilson to return on Sunday, a week after his concussion, if he clears protocol.
“We are taking it day-by-day and just going through the protocol, like we should,” Hackett said.