Rams GM says Stetson Bennett needed 'a break from the game' during rookie season

While Matthew Stafford was and remains entrenched as the Los Angeles Rams’ starting quarterback, the team last year used a fourth-round draft pick on two-time College Football Playoff national championship-winning quarterback Stetson Bennett.

The former Georgia Bulldogs star was expected to be Stafford’s backup during his rookie season and the foreseeable future. But Bennett was missing in action during the majority of his rookie campaign, leaving observers with more questions than answers.

He sat out of the season opener with a shoulder injury. A few days later, he landed on the non-football injury list. At the time, the Rams were tight-lipped about the decision to change Bennett’s roster status.

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Quarterback Stetson Bennett #13 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up before a preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on August 26, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.
(Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

“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 in September when asked about Bennett.

Bennett is now back with the team, and he appears to be on the path to competing for the backup role. The Rams signed veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo in March, but he will miss the first two games of the season. The 32-year-old was suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

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This week, Rams general manager Les Snead finally offered some insight into what transpired with the quarterback last season. Snead suggested Bennett was burned out after back-to-back college football titles.

Stetson Bennett of the Los Angeles Rams warms up prior to a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium Aug. 19, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif.  (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

“I know this: Last year was very beneficial for him. I think he took advantage of that year away from the game,” Snead told Alabama’s News 19.

“You know what, he’s an exhausted human being based on everything he had done to walk on, to go to (junior college), 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.”

Snead said the Rams’ Super Bowl appearances in 2018 and 2021 helped everyone in the franchise realize the mental and physical strain of competing 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 do your part,” Snead said.

Quarterback Stetson Bennett of Georgia speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium March 3, 2023, in Indianapolis.  (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Snead said the team was supportive of Bennett’s decision to take a step back.

“The responsibility of the QB, and for 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.

Bennett was at the Rams’ training complex last month for the start of the team’s offseason program. He was also present for practice this week. McVay was complimentary of the second-year quarterback.

“He’s done a great job,” McVay said Tuesday. “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.”

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Chantz Martin is a sports writer for Fox News Digital.

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