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Former Falcons QB Matt Ryan Debuts With Colts Against AFC South Rival

Matt Ryan will make his first start with the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium Week 1 against the Houston Texans

Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is set to play Week 1. For the first time in 14 years, it won't be as a member of the Dirty Birds.

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Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts will travel to Houston to take on the Texans in the 2022 season opener. The Falcons, meanwhile, will remain home and face off against NFC South rival New Orleans. 

After failing to acquire Deshaun Watson from the Texans, Ryan was traded to the Colts in exchange for a third-round pick. He now will hopefully be the answer under center as Indianapolis looks to take over the AFC South and remain a viable contender in the conference. 

“It’s been amazing to have him here, just that presence that energy that he brings,” Colts' All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor said of Ryan in a Wednesday press conference. “I mean, 14-year NFL vet, I mean all eyes, all ears — whatever he’s about to say, everyone’s tuned in because it’s going to be nothing but beneficial, [the] things that come out of his mouth. So, just having that leadership, that kind of person in the building, that 14-year vet — this guy has seen a lot of things.”

Ryan, 36, was drafted third overall in 2008, replacing Michael Vick following his off-the-field incidents. Since then, he has been a staple of the Falcons' offense and the face of the franchise both on the field and in the greater community. 

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In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, Falcons coach Arthur Smith said that while moving off Ryan was one that would be viewed as a negative among the fan base, it was simply business. 

"It wasn't tough, because it had nothing to do with the respect I have for him," Smith said. "We'd moved on. He had a great career, and I'll always be appreciative of it, very thankful I got to work with him. But we moved on, and that's the nature of the game. Professionally, you have to separate that from your personal relationships and do what’s best for the team and organization. And that's what we did."

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The Falcons are set to start former No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota to begin the year at quarterback. Atlanta also drafted Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder with the No. 74 selection and could look to give him first-team reps at some point this year. 

For his career with Atlanta, Ryan threw for 59,735 yards, 367 touchdowns, 107 interceptions and posted a passer raiting of 94.2. He will remain the all-time leader in wins, posting a 120-102 record.