Rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley put on a show 

Here’s what the Falcons had to say after the 28-14 loss to the Chiefs on Friday

CALVIN RIDLEY, wide receiver

On his home preseason debut: “It was pretty good, felt pretty good to get some catches and run with them a little, and it felt good to get that first touchdown out the way.”

On the rhythm the first-string offense played with tonight: “In the first game, I felt like we were all a bit antsy, at least the rookies were. We were a lot calmer, coach gave us a good game plan and we followed it. We were prepared.”

On his first touchdown: “It felt pretty good. I’m ready to get more now, but it’s just the (exhibition) season. Just the (exhibition) season.”

On the kickoff return: “It felt pretty good. I’m still learning. I still have to get better, but I felt pretty good.”

On his play this week: “I felt much better. Every time that I go out there I want to put on my best, but you can’t control some things. It felt pretty good to be able to make some plays.”

On his 36-yard catch: “They motioned me down and I had a post. I saw that he had outside leverage so I just hit with a stick (move) and stuck him real good. I looked over and I saw that the safety on the other side was pretty high. Matt (Ryan) put a good ball on me.” 

ITO SMITH, running back

On his personal performance:  “I just went out there and tried to do what I can, run as hard as I can, doing everything to the best of my ability, running behind the line. They did a pretty good job tonight.”

On taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase talent:  “Like I said, just going out and doing what I can to the best of my ability. I’m blessed to be in this position.”

On receiving advice and coaching on the sidelines: “Devonta Freeman and (Tevin) Coleman just come to the sideline telling me what I could have done better; just coaching me up, saying let the game come to you and the holes will open up eventually.”

On getting better for next game: “Just trusting my reads and doing what I got to do, making sure that I get all of my assignments right, and just go out there and try to be great.”

RUSSELL GAGE, wide receiver

On the game: “I feel like things went well. There are always things to work on. But all in all, I felt like I got better today. That’s the goal, to get better every week and I did that.”

On his big catch on the sideline: “It was cover three. I kept very close and it turns into man with me in the corner. It was an out-breaking route and it was a great throw by (Matt) Schaub. Even on that route I saw some things that I could clean up on.”

On his special teams play: “It was better than last week. But like I said, I can do better. I can be better. There are things that I learned and things I see in my game that I can improve on. I’m excited about moving forward.”

VIC BEASLEY, defensive end

On the first-team defense: “I thought it was pretty good without (Deion Jones) being there, Duke (Riley) stepped up. We all played in unison with one another. It’s looking good right now.” 

On stopping Kareem Hunt: “It’s the (exhibition) season. We went out there and it was good to go against their ones. Their best players. He’s a highly talented back and we’ve got a lot of respect for him. It was just good to go out there and compete against other guys who are trying to get the best out of themselves this year.”

BRANDON FUSCO, right guard

On the run game: “It was a big emphasis this week. We didn’t come out and play the way we wanted to last week. We wanted to make sure we ended our night feeling good and I think we did. It was a start. It was good step to take.”

On the importance of the run game setting up the pass: “Every since I’ve been here the big emphasis has been on running the ball, wearing opponents out and setting up for the big plays with play action. That’s what we are all about. It’s really important for us to get that run game going, opening those holes up to set everything else up. That’s how this offense works.” 

On get getting comfortable next to center Alex Mack: “It’s coming along really well. This first time actually being in the game with him. It’ really impressive about how they go about their business. It’s a really calm huddle. It’s calm and collected in that huddle. No panic in that huddle whatsoever. It’s pretty cool. It was a lot of fun. I’ve never been around so much talent in my life. It’s really impressive.”

On the third-and 11 conversion to start the game: “It was big. Getting into a nice little rhythm after that and feeling good about ourselves. Taking that first step was really good for us. It will be something good to watch on film. We can just build off of that and keep getting better.”


On starting with Deion Jones out: “It went all right. I felt like I did some good things. Again, there are some things I need to improve on. It was good to get out there and play a home game. It was good to get out there and play with everybody.”

On first NFL start: “That was really good. That was a different experience. Everybody was on point. The alerts to different runs help you anticipate better out there. I’m just trying to do my part and not let anybody down when I’m out there. Trying to keep the standard up on the defense.” 

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