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Thursday May 19th, 2022 5:10PM

Falcons QB Ridder early to rise — and lead — at rookie camp

By The Associated Press
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Desmond Ridder's drive to be first begins with an early start at his Atlanta Falcons rookie minicamp apartment.

The quarterback's roommates — wide receiver Drake London, running back Tyler Allgeier and tight end John FitzPatrick — can't help but notice.

“I told Desmond, ‘Don’t be so loud in the morning,'" FitzPatrick said after Saturday's session. “He just wakes up early. I don't know. He's just loud. It's like a bull in a china shop.”

Ridder, the Falcons' third-round pick from Cincinnati and the second quarterback selected in last month's NFL draft, says he knows no other way.

“I try to be the first one in the building,” Ridder said.

Ridder had to settle for runner-up honors on Saturday. He said offensive lineman Tyler Vrabel, an undrafted rookie from Boston College and the son of Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel, was the first in the practice facility.

Ridder's 6 a.m. wake-up call may have caused some grumbles, but his new Atlanta teammates have praised his leadership skills. Ridder says he strives to be a player his teammates can lean on when there are questions about learning the Falcons playbook.

Ridder wants to take full advantage of his preparation time before practice. He says the rookies were given the playbook about 10 days ago, and he believed it was important for him to learn the plays for the two-day minicamp.

“These guys see that I’m in the playbook 24-7,” Ridder said. “I’ve got it down pretty good so when they’re coming up to me and asking me questions and just being able to fire it off back at them real quick and them understand that I have a good grasp and knowledge of the offense, that builds trust within the offense and within our relationships with each other.”

Another example of Ridder's leadership came in a sideline speech on Friday.

London, the first-round pick, said Ridder called the other rookies together to say mistakes in drills must be corrected. London said Ridder's message was, “'We messed up a lot today.”

Added London: "We got it together and that’s just the leader he is, so I’m following his footsteps.”

Falcons coach Arthur Smith was hesitant to make too much of what he has seen in a two-day rookie camp. Even so, Smith acknowledged on Saturday, “That’s a good start."

“It’s one of the characteristics we liked about him," Smith said. "If we got him out here and was mute, I’d be a little concerned. I guess he passed the Day 1 as advertised in that regard.”

Ridder (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) led Cincinnati to last season’s College Football Playoff. He threw 30 touchdown passes as a senior and set a school career record with 87 scoring passes.

Smith has said Marcus Mariota, the former Titans starter acquired from the Las Vegas Raiders following Matt Ryan's trade to Indianapolis, will open training camp atop Atlanta's depth chart. Ridder will compete with Mariota and have an opportunity to prove he can be the future starter.

Ridder was only the second quarterback drafted. Pitt’s Kenny Pickett was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round. Still, Ridder was only the No. 74 overall pick.

That's lower than Ridder expected and even though he says he understands that quarterbacks dropped in the draft, it's motivation as he launches his career.

“Yes I am going to take it and use it as a chip but it’s not something that I think about every single day,” he said.

NOTES: Smith said WR Bryan Edwards (6-3, 215), acquired from the Raiders on Friday, “fits inside our receiver room” as another player with good size. “He’s a guy who can win outside one on one and a guy who can certainly know how to play in traffic inside the numbers,” Smith said. The Falcons sent a fifth-round pick in 2023 to Las Vegas and also acquired a seventh-rounder next year from the Raiders.

___

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