Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Cover 9@9: Ridley turning heads early in camp

 

Good morning! Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog. It’s our weekly list of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.

1. Ryan impressed with rookie receiver. Falcons rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley, the team’s first round pick, is turning heads early in training camp. 

Ridley, who was selected with the 26th overall pick, was drafted to add some explosion back into the Falcons’ offense.

“It’s not going to be hard,” quarterback Matt Ryan said about integrating Ridley into the offense. “He’s a talented player. He can do a lot of different things.”

Ridley had a strong offseason and has continue to play well over two padded practices. 

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“Certainly through the offseason and the first couple of days in camp, he’s showcased his talent level,” Ryan said. “I can see him having a really good year for us. He’s been fitting in really well with the receiving corps we have.”

During the team’s Red-White scrimmage on Monday, Ryan and Ridley connected a few times, but were on the losing team.

“I was just trying to go out there and make plays,” Ridley said. 

» Photos: New Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley

2. Trufant impressed, too. Ryan hasn’t been the only player that Ridley has impressed. 

“He’s real good,” cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “He’s real polished. He’s crafty. That’s something that you don’t see in rookies. 

“He’s crafty in his routes. I’m excited to see what he can do. He can run too. He’s explosive. I know that he can make plays out there.”

3. Coach Julio Jones. Ridley, who played at Alabama, is also being mentored by Julio Jones. The two worked out over the offseason in Tuscaloosa. 

But since Jones didn’t holdout, he’s been mentoring Ridley daily in training camp.

“It’s been amazing,” Ridley said. “Everybody knows that Julio is really, really good. But people don’t know how good he really is. He’s so detailed with his plays. He knows everything.”

Ridley has a lot of respect for Jones, who set to enter his eighth season in the league.

“He’s a coach,” Ridley said. “He coaches me on everything. Even If I do it right, he will tell me this is how you can do it better. You can lean…..It’s like having another coach on the field.”

» Hummer: Ridley runs long, hard route to Falcons

Jones has been impress with his pupil.

“Hard worker, very hard worker,” Jones said. “He listens to everything, he wants to be great.”

Ridley has been a receptive learner. 

“He’s not a guy that thinks he knows everything,” Jones said. “First round guys, guys can be stuck in their own ways and things like that, but he comes to work. I love his attitude and I love his work ethic and everything about him.”

4. Replacing Gabriel. Ridley was drafted to essentially replace Taylor Gabriel, who had 11 plays of 19 yards or more and five long touchdowns (76, 64, 47, 35 and 25 yards) during the Falcons march to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. Gabriel, who left for the Bears in free agency, had only one touchdown last season, which went for 40 yards. He only had four plays for 19 yards or more. 

Ridley’s job will be to make teams pay for double-teaming Jones as Gabriel did in 2016. 

Ridley didn’t want to share his goal for the season. 

“I’m out there trying to get better,” Ridley said. 

One of the key lessons that Ridley has learn from Jones has been taking care of his nutrition and hydration.

5. Beating the heat. He suffered a cramp at the end of practice on Saturday, but was back in action at Mercedes Benz Stadium on Sunday.

“All day long, they’ve got guys handing us water and Gatorades,” Ridley said. “We drink, drink and drink all day. Sometimes that doesn’t even work and the heat will get you. I’m going in the cold tub and hot tub and getting treatment. I’m doing what I have to do.”

Whatever happens, Ridley believes his work ethic will serve him well.

“I just think I have a lot of energy,” Ridley said. “We’ll get out of the meeting, I’ll go in the weight room and do curls right quick and then go back to another meeting. I just feel like I need to move and I have a lot of energy.”

The Falcons hope that energy translates into big plays and touchdowns. 

6. Duke Riley update. Sat down with Duke Riley on Monday. He was rather frank about his rookie season and his plan to get better.  The interview is featured below in the 67th episode of The Bow Tie Chronicles podcast. 

7. Ryan on Sarkisian. Ryan and second-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian are hoping to lead a rebound of the offense.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence,” Ryan said. “Obviously, Sark is a lot more comfortable with the personnel. Knowing what guys to use in certain situations. I think that just comes with experience. We all kind of have a feel for his (style) as well.” 

8. Fullback battle. With the release of Daniel Marx, the Falcons only have two fullbacks on the roster.

It’s likely that the opening day fullback is not on the training camp roster.

Luke McNitt and Ricky Ortiz remain on the roster, but if a veteran gets released by another team the Falcons may make a move. 

9. Depth Chart: Here’s the Falcons updated depth chart after the recent players moves on Monday: 

Here’s the working depth chart. We’ll get he first “unofficial” one from the team before the exhibition season opener against the Jets on Aug. 10:

OFFENSE 

WR 11 Julio Jones, 18, Calvin Ridley, 14 Justin Hardy, 13 Reggie Davis, 86 Lamar Jordan, 16 Taj Williams

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 68 Austin Pasztor, 76 Daniel Brunskill, Kendall Calhoun

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 63 Ben Garland, 64 Sean Harlow, 75 Jamil Douglas 

C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 61 J.C. Hassenauer

RG 65 Brandon Fusco, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 62 Salesi Uhatafe

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 74 Ty Sambrailo, 77 Matt Gono

TE 81 Austin Hooper, 82 Logan Paulsen, 85 Eric Saubert, 89 Alex Gray, 80 Troy Mangen, 87 Jaeden Graham 

WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 17 Marvin Hall, 83 Russell Gage, 15 Christian Blake, 19 Dontez Byrd, 7 Devin Gray, Colby Pearson

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 9 Grayson Garrett, 6 Kurt Benkert

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 25 Ito Smith, 41 Terrence Magee, 32 Justin Crawford, 35 Malik Williams

FB 43 Luke McNitt, 30 Ricky Ortiz 

DEFENSE 

DE 98 Takk McKinley, 50 Brooks Reed, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 96 Mackendy Cheridor

DT 99 Terrell McClain, 94 Deadrin Senat, 93 Garrison Smith, 

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 92 Justin Zimmer, 91 Jon Cunningham

DE 44 Vic Beasley, 90 Derrick Shelby, 55 J’Terius Jones 

WLB 42 Duke Riley, 54 Foyesade Oluokun, Jonathan Celestin

MLB 45 Deion Jones, 52 Emmanuel Ellerbe, 53 Emmanuel Smith 

SLB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 56 Anthony Winbush, 49 Richard Jarvis

CB 23 Robert Alford, 20 Isaiah Oliver, 28 Justin Bethel, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, 39 Deante Burton 

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 34 Brian Poole, 35 Leon McFadden, 43 Chris Lammons

NB 34 Brian Poole, 27 Damontae Kazee, 42 Tyson Graham, 30 Joseph Putu 

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Damontae Kazee, 38 Marcelis Branch

SS 22 Keanu Neal, Ron Parker, 35 Secdrick Cooper

SPECIALISTS 

K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 David Marvin 

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 14 Justin Hardy, 17 Marvin Hall, 30 Ito Smith, 18 Calvin Ridley

PR 14 Justin Hardy, 16 Reggie Davis, 18 Calvin Ridley

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher 

About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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