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Falcons release inactives list ahead of NFC South clash with the Saints in New Orleans

Desmond Ridder to take over for Taylor Heinicke, who is inactive for Sunday's game

NEW ORLEANS -- The Falcons have come to a decision on the game status of quarterback Taylor Heinicke and defensive end Zach Harrison. Both were listed as questionable on Friday's injury report ahead of Sunday's game in New Orleans, and both were ruled out when the inactives list was released 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

With Heinicke inactive, former QB1 Desmond Ridder will return to the starting lineup. Logan Woodside, who has been the Falcons' emergency third quarterback all season, will be Ridder's backup.

The Falcons have listed Heinicke as the emergency third quarterback in New Orleans. As a reminder: Heinicke will dress but cannot enter the game unless both Ridder and Woodside are ineligible to take the field. If either quarterback is cleared to return to the field of play, Heinicke would have to immediately come out of the game.

Heinicke has started the last two games for the Falcons. He suffered an ankle injury in the Falcons win over the Colts in Week 16. Though he played the entire game, he was limited in practice throughout the next week. The veteran quarterback got the start in the following game against the Bears in Chicago, but the ankle injury lingered and worsened as the game came to its close. The Falcons took Heinicke out of the loss in the fourth quarter, and though both Heinicke and head coach Arthur Smith expressed optimism about Heinicke's ability to play this Sunday in New Orleans, he was ultimately listed as inactive.

The Falcons are 6-6 in games Ridder has started in 2023. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in those 12 games with a 63.4 completion percentage. The last time Ridder was in New Orleans, it was his first start for the Falcons in 2022. The Falcons lost that game. Ridder was 13-of-26 through the air with 97 passing yards. He was sacked four times, and threw no touchdowns or interceptions.

Here is the full list of Falcons inactives for Week 18:

QB Taylor Heinicke (emergency third quarterback)

CB Natrone Brooks

S DeMarcco Hellams

DL Tommy Togiai

OL Drew Dalman

DL Zach Harrison

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