FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes a grade for Calvin Ridley’s second preseason game as well as Grady Jarrett’s place among the most underrated players in the NFL.
After a shaky start to their preseason, the Falcons’ starters looked much sharper in their loss to the Chiefs. There were a number of players who had solid performances in Week 2, including Matt Ryan, Tevin Coleman and Damontae Kazee, but it was rookie receiver Calvin Ridley who may have caused the most buzz.
Ridley certainly caught Bucky Brooks’ attention, who picked the Falcons’ rookie as one of his NFC players to grade from the second week of the preseason.
“The rookie pass catcher already looks like a potential superstar as a silky smooth route runner with outstanding hands and ball skills. Ridley snagged three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown on an assortment of stop-start routes between the hashes against the Chiefs. Although he is likely to play as a WR3 in Year 1, Ridley has all of the tools to be an effective starter down the road. Grade: B+”
Ridley caught three passes against the Chiefs for 49 yards and his first career touchdown in the NFL. He also returned two kicks for 52 yards, including the game’s opening kickoff which he returned 34 yards.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
ESPN: Calvin Ridley on kickoff returns: ‘I want to get the ball’
Speaking of Ridley, the Falcons rookie is willing to help out in any way he can, including on kickoff returns. In an interview with ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Ridley explained his mindset.
"I'm trying to help the team the best I can," Ridley told McClure. "Any possible way. It doesn't matter. I want to get the ball. That's another way for me to get it, another opportunity to showcase my ability. So if coach wants me back there and he trusts me enough to do that, I'll do whatever it takes."
To read the rest of McClure’s piece on Ridley, click here.
The Ringer: The five most undervalued players in the NFL
Grady Jarrett has become a true difference-maker along the Falcons’ defensive line, but he may still be underrated in terms of his public perception. Slowly-but-surely, though, that is beginning to change. Jarrett was included in Danny Heifetz’s piece for The Ringer that named the five most undervalued players in the NFL.
“Before Brandon Graham strip-sacked Tom Brady to seal Super Bowl LII, Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was supposed to be the darling pass rusher credited with pummeling Brady to seal a Super Bowl victory,” Heifetz writes. “Jarrett’s three-sack coming-out party in Super Bowl LI has been largely lost to the sands of time, but Falcons fans understand just how good Jarrett has been the past two years.”
ESPN: Carson Wentz says it’ll be close call to play Week 1
One of the biggest questions leading into the Falcons’ season-opening showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles is whether or not their opponent will have its star quarterback back. As we near the midpoint of the preseason, that question still doesn’t have a clear answer.
"I think there's been really no secret that it's going to be close," Wentz recently told reporters, per ESPN’s Tim McManus. "Seeing where I'm at in camp and finally, hopefully next week, doing 11-on-11, I think naturally it's going to be close. Ultimately, it won't be just my call or the coaches' call. It will come down to what the doctors say, really."
To read more on Wentz’s status, click here.