Cover 9@9: Who was the best pick, Ridley or Moore?

1. The No Spin Zone. Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Carolina wide receiver D.J. Moore are forever linked.

The Panthers selected Moore with the 24th overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Two picks later, the Falcons selected Ridley. Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst was selected 25th by the Ravens.

Moore has played in 38 games and Ridley in 36, so there is a nice sample size of games to compare the two wide receivers.

Although both teams are pleased, Ridley appears to have a slight edge.

Ridley has 167 catches of 249 targets (67.1%) for 2,302 yards and 23 touchdowns. With his 3-yard touchdown catch against the Lions, Ridley surpassed Andre Rison for the most touchdown receptions (23) through a player’s first three seasons in franchise history.

Moore has caught 173 of 270 targets (64.1%) for 2,530 yards and nine touchdowns.

While Moore has Ridley in yards, Ridley catches more of his targets and has doubled Moore’s scoring output.

Ridley’s advantage maybe that he’s had just one quarterback in Matt Ryan, while Moore started with Cam Newton, had Kyle Allen for most of his second season and has Teddy Bridgewater this season.

Ridley has impressed Ryan.

“There’s one for me that’s probably off the radar,” Ryan said when asked if a one Ridley catch stands out for him. "It was in a tough loss in the season opener up in Minnesota last year, but he caught a touchdown on the left side of the field.

"Just his ability to track the ball – I kind of threw a floater. He was in front of a defender, used his speed to get behind the defender and track the ball. I think that shows just how elite his speed is and his ability to track down a ball.

“The other one I think is a touchdown he had against Houston last year toe-tapping on the sideline. That shows his body awareness. Sorry it’s not just one, but those are two that come to mind for me.”

Moore had a long of 82 yards as a rookie and he caught a 74-yard touchdown last week against the Saints. Of course, he helped to torch the Falcons with a 57-yard touchdown catch-and-run in the 23-16 loss on Oct. 11.

“D.J. is doing a great job,” Carolina coach Matt Rhule said Tuesday. “He’s got elite speed and he’s got great ball skills. I think the thing that is happening is that (wide receiver) Robby (Anderson) is having a great year. Curtis Samuels is doing a great job. Really, those three guys complement each other."

2. Pinkney time. Two things on Falcons tight end Luke Stocker. Why is he wearing Tony Gonzalez' No. 88?

That’s a violation of some code.

And, how does the blocking tight end keep missing his blocks?

He has played 208 offensive snaps (41%) as a blocking tight end. At some point, in this weird season the Falcons must see if Jared Pinkney can play.

Hopefully, the former Norcross High and Vanderbilt standout is working on his in-line blocking and will be ready when he gets his shot.

Falcons tight ends Luke Stocker (left), Jared Pinkney and Hayden Hurst take the field for training camp on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 in Flowery Branch.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Falcons tight ends Luke Stocker (left), Jared Pinkney and Hayden Hurst take the field for training camp on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

3. Powell picking it up. After a slow start to the season, returner Brandon Powell is picking it up.

He had career-highs in punt and kickoff return yards in the win against Minnesota.

Against Detroit, Powell didn’t return any punts and had four kickoff returns for 78 yards, including a long of 23 yards.

In the previous meeting with Carolina, he returned one punt for 3 yards and two kickoffs for 47 yards.

While Powell is doing better, wide receiver Chris Rowland, who’s on the practice squad, should get a shot late in the season. Might as well find if these players on the practice squad can play.

“I think one of the biggest things that he’s done is catch the ball consistently,” said special teams coordinator Bernie Parmalee of Powell. “Even in practice, before you had too many balls on the ground. He didn’t have that many, but as a returner you always want to focus on making sure that ball is protected.”

4. Falcons preparing for McCaffrey: The Falcons are preparing to face versatile Carolina All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffery suffered a high ankle sprain and has not played since the second game of the season.

“He can be up so, I’ll be ready for him,” Falcons middle linebacker Deion Jones said Tuesday.

McCaffrey, who’s in his fourth season in the NFL, has rushed 41 times for 156 yards and four touchdowns He’s also caught seven passes for 67 yards.

“He got out there and practiced today,” Carolina coach Matt Rhule said. “We’re hopeful that he’ll be able to play soon. They’ll look at him and see how he feels tomorrow and see if it’s this week that we can get him out there.”

McCaffrey was named All-Pro last season for the first time. He rushed 287 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns and caught 116 passes for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns.

“We’ve got to figure out where he is and what they like to do with him,” Jones said. “I like the way he runs routes. I like the way they use him.”

5. Closing out halves, games. The Falcons got blitzed right before the half in the last Carolina game which was coach Dan Quinn’s final game. They gave up two touchdowns in the final 2:30 of the second quarter.

“In those scenarios, you just need one play to happen,” free safety Ricardo Allen said. “You just need your defense to come up with one play. when the ball goes in the air, you know what they are doing in two minute. When you get in the two-minute defense, you know they have to go down and score.”

The Lions scored with 29 second left in the second quarter and drove the field with 1:04 left for the win against the Falcons on Sunday.

“If we just tighten down and make one play before half, that’s a totally different game,” Allen said. “We come home with that win. It’s really just making the plays when it’s called for you to make a play.”

6. Series history: This will be the 52nd meeting. The Falcons led the series 32-19. The Falcons won the previous five games before losing this season.

7. Davidson is back. Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson was moved to the active roster from the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday.

Davidson, who has been ineffective in limited duty, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Oct. 13. He was the second Falcons player to be place on the list since the season started. Rookie A.J. Terrell missed the third (Chicago) and fourth (Green Bay) games of the season.

Two days after Davis was placed on the list, the Falcons closed practice with the hopes of avoiding an outbreak after defensive line coach Jess Simpson tested positive. Four days after Davidson, defensive end John Cominsky was placed on the list.

Davidson was drafted in the second round out of Auburn. He was slowed for most of training camp with a knee injury and did not play until the third game of the season. He played 32 snaps (39%) against the Bears and made two tackles. He played 15 snaps (24%) against Green Bay and 12 (19%) against Carolina and did not make any tackles.

Davidson was the ninth member of the team placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and Cominsky was the 10th.

Terrell, safety Jamal Carter, fullback Keith Smith, safety Chris Cooper, rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, quarterback Danny Etling and linebacker Foye Oluokun all served stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Etling later was released.

8. Injury report. Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley, who’s been battling a groin injury since the second game of the season, did not practice Tuesday.

McKinley started Sunday against the Lions, but played only five snaps in the previous four games after being injured against Dallas on Sept. 20.

McKinley played 23 of 62 defensive snaps (37%) against the Lions and had only one tackle.

Here’s the Falcons' full injury report:

Tuesday, Oct. 27

Full Participation

· N/A

Limited Participation

· No. 11 WR Julio Jones (hip)

· No. 51 C Alex Mack (knee)

· No. 76 T Kaleb McGary (elbow)

· No. 83 WR Russell Gage (knee)

Did Not Participate

· No. 98 DE Takk McKinley (groin)

9. DEPTH CHART: Here’s a look at the official depth chart for the second Carolina game.

OFFENSE

QB -- Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub

WR -- Julio Jones, Christian Blake

WR -- Calvin Ridley, Olamide Zaccheaus

WR -- Russell Gage, Brandon Powell

TE -- Hayden Hurst, Luke Stocker, Jaeden Graham (Team actually list Graham ahead of Stocker. Stocker has played more snaps)

RB -- Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison

FB -- Keith Smith

LT -- Jake Matthews, Matt Gono

LG -- James Carpenter, Matt Hennessy

C -- Alex Mack, Matt Hennessy (Team lists Justin McCray as the backup, but when Mack was injured against Detroit, Hennessy played so we move McCray to backup right guard).

RG -- Chris Lindstrom, Justin McCray

RT --Kaleb McGary, Matt Gono, John Wetzel

DEFENSE

DE -- Takk McKinley, Allen Bailey, Charles Harris

DT -- Grady Jarrett, Deadrin Senat

DT -- Tyeler Davison, Marlon Davidson

DE -- Dante Fowler, Steven Means, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

LB -- Deion Jones, LaRoy Reynolds

LB -- Foye Oluokun, Mykal Walker

CB – A.J. Terrell, Jordan Miller

CB -- Kendall Sheffield, Blidi Wreh-Wilson

CB -- Isaiah Oliver, Tyler Hall

FS --- Ricardo Allen, Sharrod Neasman

SS – Keanu Neal, Jaylinn Hawkins

SPECIAL TEAMS

K -- Younghoe Koo

P -- Sterling Hofrichter

LS -- Josh Harris

KR – Brandon Powell

PR -- Brandon Powell

Falcons' next four games

Falcons at Panthers at 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29

Broncos at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Bye Week

Falcons at Saints at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

Las Vegas Raiders at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 29

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