Rams QB Stetson Bennett 'hungry' after addressing mental health

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Speaking for the first time since he was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list last September, Los Angeles Rams backup quarterback Stetson Bennett confirmed his time away from the team was related to his mental health.

Bennett said he wanted to keep the reason for his absence "in-house," but when asked if it be "accurate to say that it fell under the umbrella of mental health," Bennett said, "Yeah, I'd say that."

Bennett, a 2023 fourth-round draft pick out of Georgia, was expected to back up Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford last season. Instead, Bennett went home.

"Thank goodness that [general manager] Les [Snead] and Coach [Sean] McVay and everybody involved allowed me to do that," Bennett said.

Bennett said he was "nervous the first day" he was back during the team's offseason program, but that it has "gotten better each day." When asked if he expected to be back with the Rams this season, he said "Yeah."

"It's been a pleasure working with him," offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. "I'm not going to get too much into specifics obviously, but he's in a good place and he is out here. He's done a great job being a sponge. ... He's come to work every single day focused with the intent of getting better. And that's all you can ask these guys. Just if their intent is right, which Stetson's is right now, that's all you can ask. And it's definitely shown."

Without Bennett on the roster last season, Brett Rypien was the Rams' No. 2 quarterback. He started one game for an injured Stafford in Week 9 but was cut the following week after the Rams scored just three points.

Los Angeles replaced Rypien with veteran quarterback Carson Wentz, who won the regular-season finale for the Rams, even as McVay rested several of his starters against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Rams signed Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency to back up Stafford this season, but the veteran quarterback will miss the first two games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's performance enhancing substances policy.

Bennett said his time away from the team last year reminded him how much he loves the game of football and gave him a glimpse of what his life would be without it.

"And so you kind of come out here and you're hungry every single day," Bennett said. "And I don't know, it did make me like, 'Hey, this is ... You want to do this and you want to work hard every single day and get better.'"