Rams QB Stetson Bennett says he stepped away from football last year to address mental health

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett says he stepped away from football last year to address his mental health.

Bennett said Tuesday that he feels recharged and ready to play again. The two-time national champion at the University of Georgia is participating in the Rams' organized team activities during the offseason.

After winning his second national title with the Bulldogs in January 2023, Bennett was a fourth-round pick by the Rams. He participated in Los Angeles' team activities and played extensively in the preseason while competing to be Matthew Stafford's backup under coach Sean McVay.

But Bennett left the Rams before the regular season began, and he didn't return to the team in 2023.

"I was home," Bennett said. "As far as what led to that, what transpired and all that, I think we're going to keep that in-house. But it was good. I went back home, and thank goodness (general manager) Les (Snead) and Coach McVay allowed me to do that."

When asked if the reasons for his absence had to do with his mental health, Bennett replied: "Yeah, I'd say that."

The 26-year-old Bennett said he spoke to the Rams' coaching staff periodically during his absence, and he always intended to play football again.

"A lot of nerves the first day" of the offseason program," Bennett said of his return to the Rams earlier this spring. "It's gone — I wouldn't say seamlessly, but it has gotten better each day, just like you try to make it."

The Rams gave their backup job to Brett Rypien last season, but he struggled through 1 1/2 games while Stafford was injured. Los Angeles then signed Carson Wentz, who only played significant snaps in the Rams' regular-season finale while Stafford rested for the playoffs.

The Rams have signed longtime NFL starter Jimmy Garoppolo to back up Stafford this year, but Bennett is participating in drills with the rest of the roster in hopes of earning a role.

"It's been great to get back to football," Bennett said. "It's what I love."

Garoppolo will be suspended for the first two games of the season for what he said was a mistake in applying for a therapeutic use exemption for an unnamed substance.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL


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