Julio Jones, arguably the top wide receiver in the NFL, doesn't just believe Calvin Ridley can reach that oft-discussed barrier of 1,000 yards, he thinks he can climb to much loftier heights.
It's been the summer of Ridley for those who are fans of the Atlanta Falcons, and a variety of people in and around the organization have discussed what could be a big season for the third-year receiver. On Thursday, however, Julio Jones had the opportunity to weigh in on his teammate.
"I think, for Calvin, he's going to exceed [1,000 yards]," Jones said. "He can do whatever he wants to do, he's that type of talent. He has that type of energy, his work ethic, everything is there. It's just timing. You're getting your opportunities, you're making the best of them throughout the game and the course of the season."
Ridley is on a mission this fall to prove he’s among the elite, a descriptor long applied to Jones. As he seeks to carve his own legacy, Ridley says there's nobody better to learn from than the two-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. For his part, Jones relishes the opportunity to pass along the knowledge he's gained during his nine-year NFL career.
Upon arriving in Atlanta with massive expectations, Jones had the benefit of learning from veteran receiver Roddy White, who was also considered among the top wideouts in the league at the time. Now, Jones is paying it forward. As he puts it, if Jones can help shorten Ridley's learning curve and impart lessons it took him eight years to learn, that will not only benefit his protégé but the entire team.
Early in his career, Ridley has already proved he can find the end zone with regularity, scoring 17 touchdowns in his first two seasons. Now, he's out to prove he can "easily" reach 1,000 yards, something he was on pace to achieve in 2019 before missing the final three games due to injury.
Jones has no doubt that goal can be met.
"Guys are like, 'I want to get 1,000 yards; I want to get 1,000 yards,' but if you don't think about it, I'm pretty sure he can go out there and easily get 1,000 yards," Jones said.
The Falcons have been fortunate to have two top-tier receivers for the better part of the past two decades, and it looks like they now have a third player who fits that billing. White passed the torch on to Jones, and it's Ridley who now looks poised to become an elite player. Jones appears to have plenty of football left in him, and the Falcons should enjoy having a top receiver duo for the foreseeable future.
Whenever it's Ridley's time to become the team's top option, however, Jones believes the Falcons will still be in great hands.
"Calvin, he's going to be, obviously, a great receiver in this league for a long time," Jones said.