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Calvin Ridley Sets a High Bar During His First Week Inside Jaguars' Facility

The veteran receiver has left quite the impression inside Jacksonville.

Calvin Ridley had the entire room at his fingertips. 

On Wednesday, Ridley participated in his third official workout as a Jaguar, with Jacksonville kicking off their voluntary workout program this Monday. In those three short days, Ridley has already made an impression on, well, everyone. 

His quarterback? Check.

His fellow veterans? Check. 

A local media to who he poured his inner self out to in his first-ever introduction to them? Check. 

“Oh man, I’ve made my way around a little bit. My face is surprisingly well-known around here. I stopped at a couple of car washes, hanging out with dudes," Ridley said at his first press conference as a Jaguar on Wednesday. 

"Letting them know who I am, seeing a bunch of kids. I am telling them, ‘Yes, it is Calvin Ridley’ when they ask, because I’m semi-famous. They’re like, ‘Are you Calvin Ridley?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I am Calvin Ridley.’ I let them know who I am. It’s been pretty good; it feels like home. It feels good.”

It is supposed to feel like home; that is exactly what the Jaguars envisioned when they traded for Ridley at last year's trade deadline, a deal that cost them a 2023 fifth-round pick and a conditional 2024 pick. 

They saw Ridley as one of the most talented receivers in the NFL, albeit one who had his own struggles to overcome. Within their system and culture, they believed Ridley could shine like the star he has proved himself to be. So far, so good.

“Man, if I’m being real and being honest, I’ve been good at football my whole life. I’m trying to be humble, like I said, I’ve been pretty good at football all my life. I’ve not only been good, but I’ve worked to be good," Ridley said. 

"They say two years off, but what about the healing process that I got with the time off? What if I got faster? What if I got stronger? Obviously, I got wiser, so why can’t I be better? I kind of look at it like that. Obviously, two years off, I have the leg tightness. I got to go through all the crap. I see myself being a good player, I do.”

Ridley was everything one could hope for on Wednesday, taking the room by storm after personally introducing himself to each media member. He took questions on his year-long suspension for gambling, his Players Tribune article where he laid out his struggles with gambling and his fight with his mental health during his days as an Atlanta Falcon.

And he did it all with a smile, unapologetically himself. He beamed with confidence. The confidence of a receiver who knows he is right where he belongs.

"Honestly, when I did that, I really did that for myself. I did that just to let some people know what was going on because when I was on that year suspension, I’d come outside sometimes and talk to certain people I wanted to talk to, friends. I would just listen, I would be like, ‘Oh, that’s what you think and that’s what you’re thinking.’ For me, personally, it was more of a way to get it out and say, ‘Alright y’all, I love football,’" Ridley said. 

"I just had it hard at that point, I was in my fourth season, and I didn’t want it to be that hard. I’m a great player who works and needs an off-season in order to be great, most of us do. That’s kind of what I was saying. I was just like, ‘I work hard. I was hurt. I’m not soft at all, at all.’ I was in a tough situation, a lot of people I would’ve wished to see how you would’ve handled it. That’s all I was saying.”

Now Ridley is fitting into an offense that last year was a top-10 unit by all measures. There are big shoes to fill with former starting wide receiver Marvin Jones departing in free-agency, and it is Ridley's time to start filling them.

Ridley has had half a year to imagine how he would fit into the Jaguars' offense. Now he is starting to get a true idea just how he can help the Jaguars take the next step.

“Yeah, one of the biggest things when I was watching was noticed they’re good, but maybe starting off a little slow. Getting a little behind and then making a big comeback," Ridley said. 

"What if you started off so amazing in the beginning and finished off like that? Like wow, what a team could be. I was thinking that I know the player I am and the systems I’ve been in, I’m one of those players that they try to get the ball to, sometimes, on the first play of the game. I’m always pretty much ready to crank it open, get it open, and I feel like I could help start that energy and start moving the ball right away as soon as the game pops off.”

There were no questions in Ridley's mind on Wednesday if he can be the playmaker he was with the Falcons. Instead, there was only peace of mind and one of the strongest first impressions a Jaguar has made in recent memory. 

"What I’m saying is that I am a 1,400-yard receiver with a broken foot," Ridley said. 

"That’s what I’m saying. I know that I can make the plays and I know that I’m one of the better receivers in this league, that’s what I’m saying."