Falcons fans and fantasy football players alike have their eyes on Calvin Ridley.
With the departure of Julio Jones to the Titans, Ridley is the No. 1 receiver in Atlanta and the go-to guy.
Ridley’s ready for it. After all, he was that guy for a good portion of 2020.
“I think I’m ready for that role, more than ready for that role,” Ridley said Tuesday, per the Associated Press.
Though the Falcons were mired in a 4-12 campaign in 2020, Ridley reeled in his finest statistics. The 26-year-old hauled in a career-best 90 receptions and 1,374 yards on a career-high 143 targets. He did that in a career-high 15 starts as Jones’ final campaign in Atlanta was limited to nine games due to a troubling hamstring.
Thusly, things don’t feel all that changed for Ridley.
“I don’t want to say it’s different,” Ridley said. “I had some games without Jones. … I just can’t wait to make plays and do what I have to do for my teammates.”
It is different, though, because Ridley is the anointed No. 1 and heading into the season as such, the unrivaled go-to guy for quarterback Matt Ryan. That No. 1 spot was reserved for Jones since about 2014 when he took the mantle from Roddy White.
While that’s different for Ridley, being a productive wideout hardly is.
In reality, Ridley’s been consistently stellar since the Falcons picked him in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Alabama. He had 10 touchdowns as a rookie in 2018 to go with 64 catches and 821 yards. In 2019, he had a few more yards (866), 63 receptions and seven scores.
But when you’re the No. 2 receiver opposite an all-time great such as Jones and playing on sub-.500 squads, getting overlooked is a byproduct.
Plenty more eyes are on Ridley now, though. Despite the added notice, Ridley could get off on a better foot than he did in 2020 – quite literally. Ridley said his foot was “not good” last year.
Boding better for him this season is he had offseason surgery to mend his foot.
“My foot is totally, definitely fixed,” he said.
Ridley’s got a repaired foot and a new reality as the unquestioned No. 1 wideout in Atlanta. A very big season might well be ahead.
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