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Falcons discuss quarterback change in loss to Tennessee Titans 

Taylor Heinicke went in for Desmond Ridder after halftime. Ridder was evaluated for a head injury. 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Following the halftime break of the Falcons' 28-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Taylor Heinicke took over at quarterback for starter Desmond Ridder. Head coach Arthur Smith said the decision was not one based in performance issues, but because Ridder was evaluated for a concussion.

At halftime, Ridder was 8-of-12 through the air with 71 passing yards and one fumble. He was sacked five times. In the last three games, Ridder has turned the ball over in some capacity seven times (three interceptions vs. the Commanders, three fumbles lost vs. Tampa and one fumble lost vs. the Titans).

After halftime, it was announced that Ridder had been evaluated for a concussion. He was cleared to return to the game after that evaluation concluded.

"Des needed to get checked out," Smith said. "It's why Taylor's here. Taylor got in there and got going."

When pressed for further details about Ridder's status as QB1 moving forward, Smith doubled down.

"We just finished this game, and we have a lot of confidence in Des," the head coach said. "We didn't take him out for performance issues. That's why Taylor is here as a backup, to give us a shot to win it."

So, to be clear, Smith was questioned: Ridder did not play in the second half because he was evaluated for a concussion, even though he was cleared to return?

"You guys got the same report I did, right? I'm not a medical expert," Smith said. "There's a reason why you get evaluated, but I'm not a doctor, so when you have somebody come out, just like with Drake (London), somebody else has to go in there."

London left Sunday's loss with a groin injury. His return was announced as questionable following the injury, but he never returned to action.

Smith said his decision to not play Ridder, but Heinicke instead, in the second half was because he's "always going to be conservative," and "with certain things, I trust the doctors."


After the game, Ridder was asked about going through concussion protocol. He was specifically asked if he felt off during the game. He said, "No."

"These coaches know us like some of our parents (know us)," Ridder said, "... and they just felt like I was a little off."

Ridder said he could not pinpoint the exact play that triggered the check for the concussion.

"They felt they saw it and felt something was off," he said.

Heinicke finished the game 12-of-21 passing for 175 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked twice, but one was taken away because of a roughing the passer penalty.

Following protocol, Ridder said he was evaluated again for a concussion after the game ended.

"We'll go back in tomorrow, make sure I wake up fine," he said. "Make sure everything is good to go."

When Smith was asked if he will evaluate the role of the starting quarterback for the Falcons in the coming week, he left his answer open-ended.

"You can ask me 500 ways. We just finished the game. There's a lot of things that we have to go back and look at, listen to medical experts," Smith said. "We'll see how this week goes."

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