Alabama in the Pros

Atlanta Falcons looking toward wide receiver Calvin Ridley to return kicks, punts

© Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Dan Quinn, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and the Atlanta Falcons want to get full use of its 26th overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft. During Saturday’s rookie minicamp session, the team experimented with receiver Calvin Ridley on special teams. 

According to a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons have an opening for someone to return kicks and punts after it chose to not re-sign Andre Roberts. Despite having a couple of players vying for the role, Quinn wanted to give his first-round pick an opportunity. 

“So, we got a chance to see him (do) a variety of things today, and that will continue through the OTAs,” Quinn said on Ridley per AJC. 

Offensively, the Florida native earned reps in the slot and on the outside. 

He was the favorite target for quarterbacks Jake Coker and Jalen Hurts at Alabama, hauling in 224 career receptions for 2,781 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. Ridley turned in 967 yards receiving last season with five scores on 63 catches as the Tide won a national championship. 

Regardless of him returning two punts in college and getting limited reps over the weekend, Quinn sees Ridley’s eagerness to work and has immediately become drawn to it.  

“The first impression was that I recognized the competitor that he was because he wanted every rep,” Quinn said to AJC. “That’s a good thing. He wanted to go for it, but today we were trying to feature some of the guys that we wanted to take a look at. He didn’t get as many reps today and I know there was some disappointment on his end.” 

His ability to change directions and set up blocks with his vision should bode well for Ridley, especially when one factors in his speed. A former five-star, he recorded a time of 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot-1, 189-pounder drew comparisons to former NFL receiver and Hall of Famer, Marvin Harrison, and will be fun to watch next fall

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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