FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley was arguably the star of the Falcons' second preseason game against the Chiefs, but against the Jaguars he had a few struggles.
Ridley was targeted four times against the Jaguars, but he had just one reception for 12 yards. Notably, the other three times the ball was thrown Ridley's way, it was dropped. In the second quarter, on the Jaguars' side of the field, Ridley dropped a pass that appeared to ricochet off his foot and into the arms of a defender for an interception.
The play was overturned, but after Matt Ryan had an NFL-high seven interceptions come off of tipped passes, it was a reminder of how important securing the ball really is. When recapping their losses, the Falcons don't hide from their mistakes, they shine a light on them. First-round draft picks, included.
"When there's something out there, that's part of tell the truth [Monday]," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Monday. "Nobody escapes that. That's part of the process that we go through to say, 'Hey man, we expect you to own that.' It wasn't just him, there were other people that had that. I'm sure he doesn't like having that play in front of the rest of his teammates in a team meeting, just like Matt [Ryan] doesn't on a play or anyone else.
"But I think to be a true team, you have to show all of the examples – the ones that he really lights them up good, and the ones that he had a drop. It's probably his first taste of [that]. Last week he was on his way to becoming the next Pro Bowl rookie receiver and then he had a drop and then [the media] brings that up. Welcome to the NFL."
Ridley's performance in the third preseason game may likely go down as an aberration. The rookie receiver has had an impressive camp, and he has shown flashes of the player he's capable of becoming.
He's shown the coaching staff that he can make plays to help the team – his 36-yard catch against the Chiefs comes to mind – now, Quinn wants to see how he responds to making a few mistakes in a live NFL game.
"He's a really detailed and prideful guy," Quinn said. "I'm sure you guys have noticed, too, the way he practices. There's an intensity that he brings that's past maybe the age of him. So I really respect that part of his game. As mistakes happen, which they're going to, I generally look to see how a guy rebounds."