THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The Rams are still taking things a day at a time when it comes to quarterback Matthew Stafford (right thumb)'s availability for Sunday's game against the Packers at Lambeau Field (10 a.m. pacific time, FOX).
That's fine for backup Brett Rypien, who said is approach stays the same even if it's a decision Los Angeles will take all the way to gametime this weekend.
"Whenever they tell me… I'm going to prepare like I'm the starter either way this week," Rypien said after Wednesday's practice. "That's what you do all the time, but especially when a guy is dealing with an injury and he is not practicing it definitely heightens that level of awareness and you're getting ready to go."
Preparing within an environment in flux is nothing new for Rypien, especially based on his previous starting experience.
His first career start was during the COVID-impacted 2020 season, a game against the Jets with no fans in attendance.
In Denver last year, he started against the Jets in Week 7 after Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson – listed as questionable on the final injury report – was ruled out the day before the game. Rypien entered the Broncos' Week 14 game against the Chiefs in the fourth quarter after Wilson sustained a concussion, then started their Week 15 game against the Cardinals even though Wilson had passed through concussion protocol (the coaching staff decided not to play Wilson for precautionary reasons).
"I think that in my five years in the NFL, I've kind of been through every type of situation that you can possibly go through during training camp," Rypien said. "I've been the third string active. I've been the backup. I've had moments where I've played obviously, had three starts. I think the one consistent that I've taken from it all is you just have to try to find a way to get better each week and just continue to focus on the task at hand and that's your job as a football player and trying to learn and get better. A lot of times as a backup, you don't get to see the rewards of that. You don't get to reap the rewards of that when you're not seeing a tangible result on Sundays but you get the respect from your teammates and stuff like that by the way that you prepare every single day. You come in and be the same guy and you practice hard and that's what I try to do."
In their time working together this year, McVay has observed those traits.
"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 and that came to fruition last Sunday," McVay said. "So he did a really good job and I think whether he was preparing to start or whether he was preparing to be the backup, I think his consistent approach is something that's a good thing for him. I don't really see much change."
Rypien said he and Stafford communicate all that time, so he's not necessarily leaning on anyone more than usual this week. Similarly, when it comes to keeping receiver tendencies, it's all about conversations. He said wide receiver Cooper Kupp is in the quarterback room often, which helps.
"Coop's in our room a lot, so number one, it's a great sounding board to have and I've known him for seven years now going back to Eastern Washington," Rypien said. "So it's nice to have a relationship there, especially with a guy that's a tremendous leader and a big voice in the locker room and a big voice in the receiver room as well. So I can just kind of communicate with him, communicate with all the guys that are out there with anything that they may see a certain way. And there's really not the whole lot that comes up, just maybe one certain thing on a route or stuff like that."
Rypien said he doesn't know when he'll be named the starter, and that they'll see how the week progresses and how Stafford is feeling. No matter the circumstances, though, he's conducting himself in the same manner he always has.
"I think I just try to take the same approach as I've done every game that I've started," Rypien said. "I was fortunate to start a lot of games in high school, start four years in college. This will be, if it is my fourth in the NFL, then just try to take the same approach that I have. I think that the guys feed off of that."