SEATTLE – In Brett Rypien’s record-setting tear through the Greater Spokane League, the former Shadle Park quarterback didn’t throw a single pass to one of the school’s all-time greats, former tight end Jake Rodgers.
He would have liked to, but Rodgers, who went on to start at offensive tackle at Washington State and Eastern Washington, graduated four years before Rypien broke a series of state records in 2014 and continued on to a sterling career at Boise State.
Rypien, the Mountain West Conference’s all-time leading passer and Offensive Player of the Year last fall, paced the sidelines at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Thursday as an undrafted free-agent rookie Denver Broncos quarterback hoping to – at the very least – stick with the organization’s practice squad.
The same can be said for Rodgers, who checked in as a second-team right tackle on the Broncos’ depth chart Thursday, logging substantial playing time in the 22-14 preseason loss to the Seahawks.
“It’s cool to finally get to play with (Rodgers) here,” said Rypien, who threw for 13,581 yards at Boise State and 13,044 yards at Shadle Park. “He’s been a great guy for me to talk to about the things that come with the NFL, because he’s been around it a few years now.”
Rodgers, a seventh-round draft pick out of EWU in 2015, said he’s enjoyed blocking for the fellow Highlander.
“I was excited to see that he signed with us, not long after I signed,” Rodgers said. “He’s a good kid and I like him a lot. He can also play some football. I think he is a really good quarterback.”
Rodgers has had a circuitous journey in the NFL since being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, wearing the helmets of eight teams in five years, including three stops with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His travels include brief stints with the Broncos, Steelers, Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers, earning paychecks on some of their respective practice squads.
But Rogers, 27, has yet to play a snap in a regular-season game.
“I’d like to stick around an organization for a while, and hopefully that works out here,” Rodgers said. “But it is what it is. I’ve been to a lot of different cities, met a lot of cool people, so I have no complaints.”
Rodgers said he came close to earning a more permanent job in his third run with the Steelers last August, but the organization went in a different direction,
“I thought I did everything I could to make the team (in Pittsburgh) last year, but it just didn’t work out,” Rodgers said. “This is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do, and I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t.”
Rodgers, who made some contact Thursday with ex-EWU teammate Jay-Tee Tiuli, a Seahawks rookie defensive tackle, credits EWU for helping put him in a position to wear his assortment of NFL jerseys.
The former FCS All-American was often at EWU practices last season after being released from the Steelers.
“Moving to Cheney from WSU was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Rodgers said. “The coaches and my great teammates helped get me here.”
Rypien, the nephew of former Super Bowl MVP and Shadle Park quarterback Mark Rypien, sought advice from Rodgers on the day-to-day operations of the organization when he first reported to camp this summer.
One of the top quarterbacks in college football last season, Rypien’s size and arm strength apparently weren’t enough for an organization to take him in the NFL Draft’s seven rounds, and now he’s trying to prove he belongs.
Veteran quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Kevin Hogan appear to be the Broncos’ first- and second-string guys, and the Broncos drafted former Missouri star Drew Lock in the second round of the draft in April.
Between the two rookies, Lock has been getting the overwhelming majority of reps in the Broncos’ two preseason games this month.
Rypien completed 5 of 10 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 1.
“It’s been good so far. I think I’ve been playing well,” Rypien said. “I like this whole organization and coaching staff. I’ve learned a lot, and there’s big learning curves, obviously, but I think I’m getting better every single day.”
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