The Atlanta Falcons are scheduled for a preseason match against Brian Flores and his crew this Saturday, August 21.
But prior to that, the Falcons and Dolphins are getting a chance to practice with each other and they aren’t taking it lightly.
During their first practice Wednesday, Falcons star wide receiver Calvin Ridley went up against Miami’s cornerback Xavien Howard.
And it’s safe to say he was “all gas no breaks” as he zoomed past the Dolphins starter for a long “touchdown”
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Ridley Is Set to Fill Julio Jones’ Shoes
With Julio Jones now suiting up with the Tenessee Titans this season, Ridley will be expected to fill his shoes as Matt Ryan’s No. 1 option.
“I think I’m ready for that role, more than ready for that role,” Ridley said, per the Associated Press. “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.”
Ridley already has had 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 to the plate and he did it well.
In fact, his numbers 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.
The Perks of Holding Joint Practices
The Falcons discussed joint practices with the Dolphins and Buffalo Bills last preseason, but the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans for the league. So for the first time in a year, teams across the NFL will be back to holding joint practices and preseason games will be on tap for August.
Joint practices have become common in recent years, however, 2014 is the last time the Falcons held joint practices for HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” During that time, the Tennesse Titans came to Atlanta, and then the Falcons flew to Houston to train with the Texans.
When you bring in another team to your turf or you go to theirs, it’s a completely new environment. Now, you aren’t just practicing against your own teammates, you’re trying even harder. It’s a great way to increase the level of competition and turns practice into a more realistic scenario. It’s also the best way to get rookies thrown into some “real” action before regular season game day.