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How Desmond Ridder has worked to take next steps in his development

From offseason throwing sessions to coaches challenging him to assuming team leadership, Ridder is trying to level up in Falcons training camp

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The break between the offseason program and training camp was downtime in name only for Desmond Ridder and his receivers.

They kept working over the summer, using facility fields, high schools and random parks to go play catch.

It wasn't just once or twice.

"It was more times than I can count on my hands and toes," receiver Drake London said. "We were working a lot."


London was always there with good friend Ridder. So was Kyle Pitts, when he was able. And Mack Hollins and Scotty Miller and so many of the new faces in the receiver corps trying to build solid chemistry with their young quarterback.

Those sessions were beneficial for all involved and should help the passing game hit the ground running now that training camp is in session. That was especially true for Ridder's work with Pitts, considering the tight end was on injured reserve when the young quarterback assumed the starting role.

"For me, it was about getting some of the new guys in there and getting everyone acclimated to how I throw the ball and how it comes out," Ridder said Wednesday, after camp's first practice. "Having Kyle in there as well, I mean, we didn't get many reps this season. I wanted him to get used to me and for me to see how he runs routes and how he works in space."

Atlanta Falcons veterans make their return to Flowery Branch for the 2023 AT&T Training Camp.

Ridder is learning to work with lots of new folks, but he isn't starting from scratch altogether. Giving him four starts at the end of last season also provided a leg up and should accelerate his progress this summer.

"They were huge mentally and physically and emotionally, just having the confidence that I can do it," Ridder said. "To get four games my rookie season and then to be named the starter is a big thing."

Now it's about taking next steps. Head coach Arthur Smith and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone are continuing to push Ridder towards better, to put him in the best position to establish himself as the franchise quarterback.

He hasn't done that over four starts but has a chance to over the course of 2023.

"We all have something to prove, and that includes Desmond," Smith said. "He has four starts under his belt. It'll be a different team that we line up with this year. Fundamentally, there are things we've asked him to do. Dave Ragone has challenged him. He's very confident but he has to go out there and prove it. …With all the quarterbacks, we're looking for them to take another step."

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch during the 2023 AT&T Training Camp.

The team Smith and GM Terry Fontenot have built around him should help Ridder do that. There are dynamic, versatile talents at all spots, including Pitts, the receiver corps, Cordarrelle Patterson, Bijan Robinson and Jonnu Smith. The second-year signal caller knows his primary job is to get it to them with room to work.

"They'll make my job a lot easier," Ridder said. "I could throw a two- or three-yard route, or even something at the line of scrimmage, and our guys could make it a 15- or 20-yard explosive play. My job is to get the ball in their hands and let them go make plays."

When asked about expectations, Ridder didn't talk about himself. He talked about the offense overall and taking yards (and points) at will.

"We want to be as explosive as we can be," Ridder said. "Whether that's through the run or pass, playaction or movement, we want to create big plays down the field and keep the ball moving forward."

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