Rams’ Stetson Bennett confirms absence during rookie year was mental health-related

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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Stetson Bennett has returned to the team after taking a year off to deal with his mental health, he confirmed to reporters after practice this week. 

The former Georgia star, who won back-to-back national championships with the Bulldogs before being drafted by the Rams in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL draft, was back on the practice field this week. 

Stetson Bennett during OTAs

Stetson Bennett, #13 of the Los Angeles Rams, participates in drills during OTAs on May 21, 2024 at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

“It’s great to get back to football, it’s what I love,” Bennett said Tuesday. 

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The Georgia native participated in the Rams’ offseason last year, played during the preseason and was expected to serve as Matthew Stafford’s backup. However, just before the start of the regular season, he was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list. 

“I was home. As far as what led to that, what transpired and all that, I think we’re going to keep that in house,” he said, declining to elaborate further. “But it was good. I went back home, and thank goodness that Les [Snead] and coach [Sean] McVay and everybody involved allowed me to do that.” 

Stetson Bennett throws ball

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

RAMS GM SAYS STETSON BENNETT NEEDED ‘A BREAK FROM THE GAME’ DURING ROOKIE SEASON

Bennett said he had expected to return to the team eventually, and made the decision after several talks with Rams brass. He admitted the decision was difficult, but “one we thought necessary at the time.”

Bennett was then asked directly if the reason he stepped away fell under the “umbrella of mental health.” 

“Yeah, I’d say that,” he confirmed.

Stetson Bennett hands off the ball

Stetson Bennett, #13, hands off to running back Josh Wallace, #30, during OTAs on May 21, 2024 at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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Bennett, 26, is again competing for the backup role, this time alongside veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo, who was signed in March. Garoppolo, however, will miss the first two games of the season after he was suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

“It’s been a pleasure working with him,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said of Bennett. “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 come to work every single day focused with the intent of getting better and that’s all you can ask these guys. If their intent is right, which Stetson’s is right now, that’s all you can ask and it’s definitely showing.”

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