Los Angeles Rams training camp officially opened at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California, on July 25. That is when head coach Sean McVay and his coaching staff will have to try and put together the best 53-man roster possible and the best starting 11 players on both sides of the ball after that for the 2023 NFL season. That means players at multiple positions will be competing for spots on the Rams roster. With that in mind, here are the three biggest Rams training camp battles to watch ahead of the 2023 NFL season, including the Stetson Bennett vs. Brett Rypien vs. Dresser Winn battle for the backup quarterback spot.
Left tackle: Joseph Noteboom vs. Alaric Jackson
For Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, and the Rams to have success in the 2023 NFL season, it starts with the offensive line. If the offensive line can’t protect its 35-year-old quarterback, the season will go downhill quickly, and — worst-case scenario — Stafford could suffer another injury.
And as all football fans know, success on the offensive line starts with the left tackle, which is why the battle between Joseph Noteboom and Alaric Jackson for the starting spot on the Rams roster is so crucial.
Noteboom is a known commodity. He is an OK tackle who can hold his own against NFL rushers in most situations. He’s also coming off a season-ending Achilles tendon injury last season, and he’s missed 29 games in the last four seasons. So, even if Noteboom wins the job, there’s a good chance he doesn’t finish the campaign there.
Jackson, on the other hand, is a relatively young and unknown quantity. He’s played 12 games in two seasons, starting six last season. And when the 2021 undrafted tackle out of Iowa did play, he played well.
In the end, Jackson should win this battle, it this is what the battle is. However, there is a chance that the best Rams offensive line actually includes Jackson at guard and Noteboom at left tackle if Noteboom there is a better option than Coleman Shelton or Logan Bruss at guard.
Wide receiver: Ben Skowronek vs. Tutu Atwell
If the Rams can ultimately protect Matthew Stafford, then the next question will be, who is he throwing to? We know Cooper Kupp is the Nos. 1, 2, and 3 option, and Van Jefferson likely comes in behind that. But who is the team’s official WR3?
That battle should come down to veterans Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell.
Skowronek and Atwell couldn’t be more different. At 6-foot-3, 224 pounds, Skowrnek is somewhere between a tight end and a receiver. Last season, he was solid, although not spectacular, catching 39 balls for 376 yards.
Atwell is the polar opposite. At 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds with electrifying speed, Atwell is a prototypical speedy slot receiver. Last season, he caught 18 balls for 298 yards and a touchdown.
Of course, there is room for both of these players on the Rams roster and in the week-to-week game plan. But only one will step up and win the job as WR3 alongside Kupp and Jefferson to start the season. Reports out of Rams training camp and offseason workouts are that Stafford and Atwell — a 2020 second-round pick — have developed a nice chemistry.
That said, a big, reliable target like Skowronek seems to fit better with the type of QB Stafford actually is late in his career.
Backup quarterback: Stetson Bennett vs. Brett Rypien vs. Dresser Winn
So, there is a chance that Joseph Noteboom and Alaric Jackson keep Matthew Stafford upright and healthy in the 2023 NFL season, and he throws for 4,000 yards to Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, and the rest of his WRs.
However, there is another scenario that could play out where Stafford doesn’t make it through the entire season. He is 35, has a ton of wear and tear on his body after 191 starts in 14 NFL seasons, and he did have a scary concussion and spinal cord contusion that knocked him out last season.
That’s why the Rams’ NFL training camp battle for the team’s backup quarterback spot is so crucial. Despite the importance to the upcoming season, the players competing for the QB2 role aren’t exactly confidence-inspiring.
Of the combatants — Stetson Bennett, Brett Rypien, and Dresser Winn — only Rypien, the nephew of Super Bowl-winning QB Mark Rypien, has thrown an NFL pass. The undrafted free agent out of Boise State played three seasons with the Denver Broncos. He played in eight games, started three (with a 2-1 record), and is 80-of-130 for 778 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions in his career.
While that makes Rypien the most experienced QB, he’s probably not the favorite to win this Rams training camp competition. That honor goes to back-to-back national champion QB Stetson Bennett. The Rams drafted the scrawny Georgia signal-caller in the fourth round, signaling they think he has at least high-end backup potential.
Dresser Winn is the underdog here. The former University of Tennessee-Martin QB has an excellent arm but is incredibly raw. Even so, you never know what Sean McVay’s magic can do for a QB.