Rams QB Stetson Bennett hints at why he mysteriously missed most of his first NFL season

Bennett is finally back at practice after mysteriously missing most of his rookie season

When the Los Angeles Rams opened the 2023 season back in September, it looked like Stetson Bennett was going to serve as the team’s backup quarterback behind Matthew Stafford. However, that never happened.

As it turned out, the rookie quarterback, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, didn’t even suit up for a single game last season.

Bennett missed the Rams’ opener with a shoulder injury, and then, three days later, he was placed on the non-football injury list (NFI). At the time, the Rams didn’t offer any details about why Bennett was placed on the list or when he might be back.

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“There are certain things that I think are a little bit bigger and more important, and out of respect for the particulars and the specifics, [I] want to be able to keep it in-house,” Rams coach Sean McVay said back in September when asked about the situation.

Eight months later, Bennett is now back with the Rams, and on Tuesday, he held his first press conference since last year. During his meeting with the media, Bennett was mostly vague about why he missed the season, saying that he wanted to “keep that in-house,” but he did admit that his mental health played a factor in his absence.

“Yeah, I’d say that,” Bennett said, via ESPN.

Although Bennett didn’t offer very many details about why he was away from the team, the Rams have been slightly more open about why he missed nearly all of his first year in the NFL.

During a recent interview with News 19 in Alabama, Rams general manager Les Snead made it sound like Bennett might have just been burnt out after leading Georgia to two straight national titles.

“I know this: Last year was very beneficial for him. I think he took advantage of that year away from the game,” Snead said, via RamsWire. “You know what, he’s an exhausted human being based on everything he had done to walk on, to go to JUCO, to come back, to turn down small schools, say ‘I’m going to try to do this Georgia thing.’ To win a job, then to win the thing, and then to determine, ‘I’m going to come back.’ And when you come back, it’s really win it again or you failed. And that does take a toll on a human being, so I was jacked for Stetson to be able to take that moment and breathe a little bit.”

With the Rams going to two Super Bowls in four seasons (2018, 2021), Snead said the organization understood what kind of physical and mental toll it can take on a player to constantly play at a championship level.

“We had gone through it the year before where we had won a Super Bowl and it really started when we lost our first one but we were an exhausted building so there was an element of understanding the toll it takes to put a team, to do your part,” Snead said.

Due to that fact, the Rams had no issues with Bennett’s decision to take a break.

“The responsibility of the QB, and in our sake, we saw what taking a break, giving some guys a break from the game to get refreshed — I call it, to get bored and fall back in love with the game you grew up playing in the backyard,” Snead said.

The former Georgia QB was grateful that the Rams allowed him to miss most of the season and then return.

“Thank goodness that Les and coach McVay and everybody involved allowed me to do that,” Bennett said.

Bennett returned to the Rams in April for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the team’s offseason workouts. He has also been at OTAs this week and he’s caught the eye of McVay.

“He’s done a great job,” McVay said on May 21. “He’s got a good look in his eye. I really appreciate the way that he’s come to work. He’s been really attentive in the meetings. I think [quarterbacks coach] Dave Ragone has done a great job with the quarterbacks as a whole. His command, his ability to communicate and Stetson’s had a couple good days and it’s been good having him out here.”

Based on their actions this offseason, it seems like the Rams weren’t sure whether Bennett would actually be returning this year. Back in March, the team signed Jimmy Garoppolo to serve as the backup to Stafford, but Garoppolo will be serving a two-game suspension to start the season, which will leave the door wide open for Bennett to earn the backup spot for the first two games of the year and possibly even longer if he can outplay the veteran quarterback.

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