Falcons' Desmond Ridder out to prove he deserves to be in the NFL

D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Football

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder is taking charge.

“He’s smart,” said Falcons wide receiver Penny Hart, who came over from the Seahawks and played with veteran quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Geno Smith in Seattle. “Really smart. Really strong arm. He hit me in the face one time. I’m not ashamed to say it. He’s really smart, and he’s driven.”

Ridder is set to take over as the Falcons’ quarterback after starting the final four games of last season.

“Being as young as he is and being ready to keep going, he’s a great leader,” Hart said. “I think the sky is, not even the sky is the limit. There is no limit with him in where he can go.”

It’s been a short time for Hart, but he has been impressed with Ridder’s leadership style.

“Just him knowing who he is,” Hart said. “That’s what you always want to look for in your teammates and a player or even just in life in general, for people to know how to lead. They do that best by being able to know exactly who they are. And what they can bring to the table, and that is what he has.”


Veteran defensive end Calais Campbell watched film of Ridder with coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot before signing with the team in free agency.

“A big part of that is that you want to win,” said Campbell, a 15-year veteran. “To win, you have to have a quarterback that can get the job done. I remember when we played against them last year when I was in Baltimore, and I saw his potential.”

Ridder played behind Marcus Mariota for 13 games last season. He took over after the bye week and went 2-2 down the stretch. The Falcons have repeatedly marveled at Ridder’s intangibles.

Last season, Ridder said his head was spinning at times.


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