Falcons’ Calvin Ridley returned to practice

FLOWERY BRANCH — Calvin Ridley, the Falcons’ leading receiver who did not play or travel with the team to London for the game against the New York Jets, returned to the team and practiced on Monday.

The Falcons described Ridley’s situation as a “personal matter.” He worked with the offense during the open portion of practice.

“Due to a personal matter, Calvin Ridley will not travel to the Falcons game in London this weekend,” the Falcons said in a statement released before the team’s planned departure. “We are in support of Calvin during this time and will respect his privacy on the matter.”

Ridley has caught 27 of 42 targets (64.2%) for 255 yards and one touchdown this season.

With Ridley and Russell Gage out of the lineup, wide receivers Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe started for the Falcons in the win against the Jets. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts had a breakout game with nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.

In addition to Ridley, Gage (ankle) and defensive tackle Marlon Davidson (ankle) were back at practice.

Cornerback and punt returner Avery Williams (hamstring) and free safety Erik Harris (calf) were not practicing during the open portion Monday.

Before leaving the team for his personal matter, Ridley had not be playing well.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith didn’t sugarcoat things when asked about Ridley’s performance against Washington, when he was targeted 13 times in the 34-30 loss. Ridley caught seven passes for 80 yards. Ridley had a couple of dropped passes and a couple that were knocked away by the defense. He didn’t appear particularly comfortable running across the middle of the field early in the game.

“Up and down,” Smith said after the game. “We expect more, and Calvin knows that. I’m not telling you anything I don’t tell the players. … He’s one of our top guys. He’s one of our captains. ... Nobody has higher expectations than he does for himself than we do. That’s why I call his number. I believe in Calvin. I called it, we can all play better.”

While Ridley has not had an 100-yard receiving game this season, he’s on pace to catch 108 passes and 1,020 yards over 16 games.

Gage has just five catches for 28 yards.

While Ridley leads the Falcons in catches with 27, Pitts leads the Falcons in yards gained with 308 and Cordarrelle Patterson leads with four receiving touchdowns.

Practice squad: Linebacker Daren Bates, who mostly been a special teams player, was signed to the practice squad. Bates, who’s 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, has played in 118 NFL games with no starts.

Bates, 30, has played with the Rams (2013-15), Raiders (2016) and Titans (2017-20). He’s played 122 snaps on defense and 2,684 special teams snaps.

The Falcons have allowed to big kickoff returns of 101 yards and 65 yards in the past two game and want to see if Bates can help the coverage units.

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