FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Monday's practice was the first in roughly three weeks where Desmond Ridder ran the Falcons' first-team offense.
He operated in a reserve role during that previous time period, a stretch where Taylor Heinicke was the starter.
Head coach Arthur Smith announced that Ridder would re-gain the starting role coming out of the Falcons bye week and keep it throughout the season's final seven games. He had it for the first eight, until Heinicke took over in the second half of a loss to the Tennessee Titans and ran the show in losses to Minnesota and Arizona.
Ridder was obviously happy with the development.
"That's my job, to be a starting quarterback in this league," Ridder said Monday afternoon, the first time he spoke publicly since Smith's announcement. "Everybody in here, quarterback, running back or whatever, wants to be that starter. It just so happens that, at our position, only one guy can be a starter. That's my job, so I have to take it and run with it."
While it was a disappointment to assume a backup role to Heinicke, Ridder tried to use that time for self-reflection and improvement outside the spotlight. While sliding down the depth chart was unwelcome, he found the time beneficial overall.
"You get a different perspective of not only yourself but the offense as a whole," Ridder said. "Sometimes I feel like, whether it's a practice or whatever, we lacked energy. So, we've got to keep energy up in practice and energy up all throughout the game.
"And then, looking at myself, there are a lot of things where I'd like to have gone back and done better. I could've protected the ball better, but there are a lot of (instances) where I could've done things to not be in those situations, whether it's footwork or your reads or your progressions. You're finding little ways to get better and then, at the end of the day, you have to stay calm back there and trust in what you see. That's going to make your play."
Ridder will need to hit the ground running as QB1, with a massive game coming up on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons are 4-6 and a game behind their NFC South rivals in the standings, with a chance to pull even and set up a race for the title down the stretch. Ridder and the Falcons know they've got to get this one.
"It's a huge division game, a huge division opponent," Ridder said. "One of our keys is to stay on track, staying ahead of the sticks and keep the ball moving forward. We need to negate the self-inflicted (issues) that may happen throughout the game."
Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the New Orleans Saints.