Calvin Ridley’s healthy, aiming for elusive thousand-yard season

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Combined ShapeCaption
Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley discusses the strength and conditioning program as team hits practice field for second day.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley plans to bounce back from an injury that cut short his second season and show that he’s an elite player.

“I’m 100%,” Ridley said Tuesday. “I was pretty much 100% close to the last game. I’m 100%. I have no problems right now. I’m ready to go.”

Ridley will enter the 2020 season as the Falcons’ unquestioned No. 2 receiver.

“Well, I guess my first year I guess I was the three,” Ridley said. “Last year, we had Mohamed Sanu and Julio. Now, I’m coming in, it’s me and Julio. I think there should be some extras balls flying and some extra yards. It should probably look a little different.”

Ridley had a strong season going before he was placed on injured reserve after the 13th game. He had 63 catches for 866 yards and seven touchdowns over 13 games and 10 starts in his second season in the NFL.

Ridley believes he’s ready to make a big leap.

He purchased a football-throwing machine, which commonly is called a jugs machine, to work on his catching in his garage.

“I can catch either outside of my garage or inside of my garage because I have a lot of room,” Ridley said. “It’s a pretty big garage.

“I got it because there wasn’t any OTAs and I was like, I’m missing a ton of jugs right now. If we would have been in OTAs I would have been getting crazy jugs in. So, I was like, I’m going to get it. I just use it any time that I’m at home and some days off I can use it, just to keep my hands real good. I should be elite this year.”

ExplorePhotos: Falcons on the practice field

Ridley believes his path to elite status has been paved by Jones.

“I just follow his steps,” Ridley said. “I want to be as good as him. That’s easy if I’m watching him and going out there with the right mindset, that’s easy. That’s all I can do.”

Ridley was happy to be back on the field.

“It’s tough, but I love football,” Ridley said. “I want to play. I need football. I worked out all offseason to get ready for this. I’m ready to play.”

In addition to working on his hands with his jugs machine, Ridley concentrated on strengthening his legs.

“My legs are for my cuts,” Ridley said. “So that my cuts are really good. I’m really strong in my legs and I want to be running through (my cuts) and that has to do with me doing it all year long. All season I have to continue squats and doing a lot of leg work to keep my legs and my cuts really crisp, so that I can run fast.”

Ridley and a lot of players are adjusting to the league’s protocols.

“The mask is a little hard, but the system that we have here, it really works,” Ridley said. “It seems kind of normal even though we are distancing ourselves and a lot of different things to prevent us from getting close. I like it. I don’t have a problem with it. I’m happy we are here, and I feel like it works.”

Ridley was not shy about sharing some of his goals for the coming season.

“I come in with a winning mindset,” Ridley said. “I want to win the Super Bowl. Help my team anyway I can. My mindset is always going to be strong and win-first.”

Ridley is coming out of his shell as he’s never been this outspoken.

“I’ve always had confidence,” Ridley said. “I just think that football has really slowed down for me a lot in the NFL. I ain’t going to lie, I’m real hungry to show people that I’m easily a 1,000-yard receiver. Easily and even better.

“I think that’s what it is for me. I’m always confident in myself. I’m just really hungry and want to help the team win as much as I can.”

Ridley thought he would amass 1,000 yards receiving last season.

“Last year, I was right there,” Ridley said. “I got hurt three games out. I was going to get 1,000 yards last year. I got hurt and I’m in the hospital that same day, my agent came. I said, ‘Man, I would have got 1,000, but I’m out for the year and I don’t have that 1,000.’ Now, I have to get it.”

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