Calvin Ridley doesn't lack confidence. He knows deep down a combination of elite talent and hard work will rank him high among the league's best wide receivers.
That belief is unshakable no matter what's said about him, good or bad.
That's not being cocky. It's supreme confidence.
And, yes, there is a difference.
He learned that from one of the best to ever do it. It was Ridley's biggest takeaway from three years working with Julio Jones, something he'll keep with him even now that Jones is a Tennessee Titan.
Trust yourself. Know you're good. Carry yourself that way.
Ridley learned that was okay after his rookie year. He learned that by watching Jones work.
"The one thing I definitely took from Julio is his confidence he has every week," Ridley said in a Tuesday press conference. "Being a No. 1 receiver going out to work every day, you have to believe in yourself. By my second year, I realized what he's all about. Once I realized that, I really tried to follow that. Not like I think I'm better than everybody, but I believe in myself. I really think that made me a better player, believing in myself and what I can do."
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Ridley proved himself a top-tier receiver in 2020, when he have 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 109 yards per game during seven contests Jones missed with a nagging hamstring injury.
Ridley wasn't motivated by an opportunity to show he could produce without Jones in the pattern. He was motivated by Jones even when they occupied the same field. Competitive fire kicked in each game they played together, as Ridley tried to one-up his All-Pro teammate.
"Just seeing Julio come in the stadium some games just gave me a bunch of energy," Ridley said. "I used to literally try to outdo him when he was on the team. I felt like that kept me hungry every day, every week."
That drive won't stop with Jones on a different team. Ridley has already found someone else to battle.
QB 1, look out.
"I'm going to find somebody on the team I can outdo every week, someone who plays at a high level like Matt Ryan," Ridley said. "I want to compete with him in my own head. I think that will help me."
Ridley will also be charged with leading a young group of skill players into 2021 and beyond. That crew includes Russell Gage, tight end Kyle Pitts and others who will be looking to Ridley to exude confidence and set the bar.
"Julio was one of the greatest receivers to ever play football, and to have come through Atlanta," Ridley said. "That's one of my goals, to keep the standard. That goes for all the guys in my room. We want to keep it high, as Julio and Roddy White and other guys have done. That's my goal, to show the guys how it's done, to play my heart out and get those wins."
The Falcons are putting in work in the Georgia heat on Day 8 of OTAs.