Ridley emphasized the injury was “just minor” when he spoke to the media last month, but it was hard for some to believe after hearing about Tom Brady‘s “minor” knee surgery.
The Falcons’ new No. 1 wideout made quite the return from his injury, which confirmed the surgery was indeed minor.
Take a look at Ridley’s solid catch from day one of training camp:
Atlanta Falcons insider for ESPN, Michael Rothstein, also reassured that Ridley was back to full speed and reported via Twitter that the rising star “Cut well out of his breaks and looked smooth as ever.”
While Ridley didn’t physically participate in OTA’s or minicamp, he was studying the playbook and still made an appearance at walk-throughs so he wouldn’t be behind for training camp.
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Ridley Will Be Matt Ryan’s No. 1 Option
Julio Jones will be suiting up with the Tenessee Titans this season, leaving Ridley as Matt Ryan’s No. 1 option.
Ridley already has plenty of experience after emerging as the Falcons’ leader in receiving yards last season with 1,374 yards on 90 catches and nine touchdowns.
Jones played just nine games last season, so with the seven outings he missed, it was Ridley’s job to step up, which he did.
In fact, his numbers actually went up as he averaged 109 receiving yards during Jones’s seven-game absence, per AtlantaFalcons.com. In five of the game, he exceeded triple digits and in total, he had 50 catches for 763 yards and three touchdowns.
Ridley’s 2020 performance ended with a second-team All-Pro accolade.
Along with Ridley, Falcons’ new tight end, Kyle Pitts, will likely be the Falcons’ 2021 leaders in receiving. Ryan will also have two more top targets in Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst.
Ridley Feels No Pressure to Fill Jones’s Shoes
With Jones no longer in the picture, Ridley will be expected to fill his shoes.
And he’s not worried about the hefty workload ahead of him since Jones left him with the keys to success.
“Just the confidence [Jones] has every week and being the No. 1 receiver and going out to work every day, I feel like you have to believe in yourself,” Ridley said via ESPN. “And by my second year, that’s when I realized that’s what he’s all about, confidence.
“So when I realized that, I just started to think that, I didn’t think that I’m better than him, but I just believed in myself and I really think that made me a better player. I really believe in myself.”
The Falcons have liked what they’ve seen thus far from the 26-yeard-old and picked up his fifth-year option this offseason.