The Falcons saw a glimpse of their (near) future when they took on the Kansas City Chiefs in their second preseason game. With wide receiver Julio Jones not playing, Atlanta used rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley as the top target in the game.
Ridley started the game with a 34-yard return on the opening kickoff. He was targeted six times finishing with three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. The production looks good on paper but what looks even better is how the Falcons were able to move him all around the field.
He lined up outside on the edges when he caught a 36-yard pass down the middle of the field. He took a slot position, coming across the middle to gain a first down. He even looked like a savvy veteran on his touchdown catch, sitting in a spot right in front of the goal line and shielding the defender with his body.
Ridley is slotted as the Falcons third receiver behind Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Its apparent Atlanta has high hopes for him and so far he’s not disappointed. Ridley was widely considered the best wide receiver in this draft and he will no doubt use this entire season to prove that point.
Second-year linebacker Duke Riley finished the game with five tackles, showing up all over the field to make plays. Head coach Dan Quinn has high hopes for Riley in year two. “That’s where the big jump comes,” Quinn said. “You see it with Duke Riley, he’s taking off. It will happen, the same thing with Takk [McKinley], we’ve seen that jump from him.
Riley was somewhat disappointing in his first season. He would often miss tackles by relying on his speed and over running plays. The Falcons covet team speed on defense and hope Riley can provide great play at outside linebacker this season.
The Falcons third preseason game will be Saturday, August 25th on the road versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.