ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — From the start, veteran Josh Johnson was the clear favorite to become the Denver Broncos' No. 2 quarterback behind starter Russell Wilson.
The Broncos released Johnson on Tuesday, which in turn meant Rypien had won the No. 2 QB job.
"Brett and Josh had a great competition -- it came down to the final (preseason) game,'' said Broncos general manager George Paton. "I just think the way Ryp operated the offense, the way he moved the team, he did some really good things.''
Johnson, 36, took almost every second-string practice rep during the offseason OTAs (Organized Team Activities) in late-May/early-June. Johnson took nearly all the No. 2 reps through training camp and then started the first two preseason games -- lighting up the Dallas Cowboys with two touchdown passes off 16 of 23 passing for 172 yards.
But then in a 42-15 shellacking the Broncos took from the Bills at Buffalo in preseason game 2, Brett Rypien came off the bench in the second half and completed 22 of 26 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown.
That performance earned Rypien the start against the Minnesota Vikings in the final preseason game Saturday. Although, Rypien threw a first-and-goal interception in the end zone to spoil an otherwise impressive 89-yard drive, he did enough (14 of 21, 137 yards) to convince head coach Nathaniel Hackett and general manager George Paton to win the backup job.
A fourth-year undrafted player from Boise State, Rypien may have been further helped in that he would have been subject to waivers had he been cut. And there was enough interest in Rypien from other teams last year for the Broncos' braintrust to believe he would not have cleared waivers so they could revert back to the practice squad.
Johnson, as a veteran with more than 4 years of service, was released and therefore is a free agent. The Broncos will try to sign him back to the practice squad on Wednesday, a source told 9NEWS.
The Broncos began Tuesday needing to cut their roster from 74 players to 53. Besides releasing Johnson, the Broncos' traded popular outside linebacker Malik Reed and a seventh-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
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