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Practice report: Calvin Ridley found game mentality working vs. Dolphins

Top Falcons receiver stood out against Miami CBs Xavien Howard and Byron Jones

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley #18 runs with the ball during AT&T Atlanta Falcons Training Camp at Atlanta Falcons Headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Monday August 23, 2021. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta Falcons)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Calvin Ridley hasn't played a preseason contest to this point. While he has watched the Falcons go against Tennessee and Miami in street clothes, he has still had an opportunity to get into that game mentality.

It happened last week during joint practices versus the Miami Dolphins, two intense sessions where he was matched up regularly against Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.

While those practices were controlled without live tackling and very few scrimmage-type moments, Ridley wasn't out there working on the little things. He was trying to win each rep. He was out there competing.

"During these joint practices, I think about it as a game," Ridley said. "I am working on my technique, but I'm going [hard]. Whatever technique I give them that rep, I don't know what it's going to be until I do it. I'm working on things, but I'm doing it on the fly."


Ridley got great work in against Howard and Jones, who were always on him. Ridley definitely won the Wednesday session, though things were a bit more even the following day.

"That was great work," Ridley said. "They're two great corners in the league. They press almost every down, and I was able to work on some stuff and get a little better."

We've all seen the videos gone viral of Ridley beating both Howard and Jones at different points. If not, check this out:

And this one.

Ridley's jaw doesn't drop when he reviews plays like that even when others go crazy over them.

"At this stage, nah. Not anymore," Ridley said. "In practice, you know how many practices I've been in over my life? Not really anymore."

McCarron headed to IR; Falcons trying out quarterbacks

The Falcons will move quarterback AJ McCarron to injured reserve after he tore his right ACL in Saturday’s preseason game against Miami. He's expected to surgically repair the ligament in the coming days.

McCarron was in Flowery Branch on Monday, watching Matt Ryan and Feleipe Franks run the show with him sidelined.

"AJ's a guy who was very good behind the scenes, doing a bunch of good guys you never see," Smith said. "You'd like him to be around here as much as he can be around here."

There will be another quarterback around here, too. Probably pretty soon.

"We're going to work some guys out this afternoon and continue to look at all avenues to help us in that spot," Smith said. "We're good with the two we've got right now with Matt and Feleipe, but we'll add one at some point this week."

Smith also said the quarterback search with one tryout.

"Just because we add somebody this week," he said, "doesn't mean we won't add somebody next week."

More practice news and notes

S Erik Harris missed practice, but Smith said it wasn't a long-term thing. The Falcons are just being cautious with their starting safety. Jaylinn Hawkins worked with the first unit in Harris' place. …WR Christian Blake left practice early, though Smith that was out of caution. … CB Kendall Sheffield also remains out with an undisclosed injury. … DL Marlon Davidson returned to practice, though he had a brace on his left leg. DL John Cominsky (concussion) also returned in a limited capacity, wearing a yellow non-contact jersey. … S TJ Green and CB Darren Hall had a nasty collision while both going for the ball, and they were down for a bit getting attention from trainers. The incident didn't have a long-lasting effect, with both players able to return. … The Falcons had their punters take reps on Monday, a practice rarity for this training camp. There's a competition between Dom Maggio and Cameron Nizialek that's starting to crank up with Maggio healthy enough to punt after an injury kept him out earlier in the summer. "That competition is still going," Smith said. "It's still going strong."

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