Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder has only seen action in preseason, but that will change this Sunday.
Ridder is ready to be under center for the Falcons’ game against the Saints, and he said he’s up for the challenge. I’m ready for this,” Ridder said, via the Falcons’ official website. “This is what they have been preparing me for.”
Veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota is not expected to be sidelined during the Week 15 game after he was benched and then abruptly walked away from the team.
Atlanta has lost four of its last five games with Mariota as the starter.
While Mariota has had some good times this season, he’s largely struggled. His lack of accuracy on deep passes has forced the Falcons to rely heavily on the running game.
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The Falcons are the fourth ranked rushing team in the NFL averaging just over 159 rushing yards per game.
Ridder made it clear that the team’s process will have him ready to play.
“They didn’t want to coddle me… It means going through the game plan like a 12-year vet would, an eight-year vet, whatever. Not putting me in a wristband, making me memorize every single game call, all the ins and outs, All the controls, all the cadence, just taking it like he’s been in the league for eight years.”
Quarterbacks coach Charles London said the offense will not be slowed in any way because of Ridder. Head coach Arthur Smith added that the recent strides Ridder has made have helped the team feel comfortable with him transitioning into a starting role.
“The growth from Desmond that we’ve seen, he’s been one play away all season,” Smith said. “I feel very comfortable with where he is at the moment, to be able to manage the game plan and operate at full capacity. We would have adapted if he had to play early in the season, but I feel very good where he is now.” .
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Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone can relate to Ridder’s situation. Ragone was drafted in 2003 in the third round of 2003, Atlanta selected Ridder in the third round of this year’s draft.
Ragone decided to share his story about how his inability to understand the preparation part of turning pro ultimately hurt his chances of being a successful NFL player.
The trainer wanted his story to be an example to Ridder of what not to do.
“I was going to push any backup quarterback, regardless of age, about the importance of preparation, because that failed me,” Ragone told ESPN. “You always learn through your experiences or your environment, and I felt like I failed in that regard and obviously learned from my mistakes, where you have the ability to prepare even though you’re not doing those reps.”
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Although there are only four games left this season, Sunday’s game will be Ridder’s first chance to show the organization if he can be an answer at quarterback.