With Mariota going through a difficult stretch of games in which he failed to crest 200 yards passing in six out of seven times, many on the outside felt it was time to give Ridder a chance … but Smith felt otherwise.
For some, the idea that Ridder hadn’t done enough to unseat Mariota reflected poorly on the former Cincinnati Bearcat, serving as an indictment of his development - or lack thereof.
And with Ridder having not seen the field since the final game of the preseason, it was a plausible albeit unsubstantiated claim.
However, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport put an end to that claim Sunday, delivering the news many had hoped to hear regarding the talented 23-year-old passer.
“The Falcons, sources say, do love the development of the third-rounder from Cincinnati,” Rapoport said. “In the preseason, he flashed poise and accuracy. It was enough to allow the Falcons to have him be their backup, rather than sign a veteran in case Mariota was injured. That is faith in their rookie.”
Mariota’s extensive injury history brings up a fair point in that regard, as Smith has said that Ridder’s just a play away from seeing action. Evidently, it’s something Atlanta’s comfortable with, but the team still believes Mariota is the best option when healthy.
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Nonetheless, with Mariota’s status with the Falcons for next season in flux, there’s a chance that Ridder will fight for the starting job next summer - and his progress made behind the scenes certainly only increases the odds that he wins that job.
But for now, it’s Mariota’s team - although Ridder’s time could come at any second, and the Falcons are completely comfortable with that scenario.
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