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#pounditMonday, December 5, 2022

Will Desmond Ridder get shot at Falcons’ starting QB job?

Desmond Ridder throws a pass

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) throws a pass in the first half of the NCAA football game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, NC, on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.
Cincinnati Bearcats At East Carolina Pirates 20

The Atlanta Falcons may have a quarterback competition on their hands leading up to the start of the 2022 season.

After signing Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal, it seemed like the Falcons had found their starter.

But the organization seems to have left the door open for rookie Desmond Ridder, the No. 74 pick in the NFL Draft, to play his way into a starting role.

Appearing on “The Rich Eisen Show” on Thursday, Falcons GM Terry Fontenot was asked by Eisen if there will be a quarterback competition. He asked if Ridder will be in the mix for the job.

Fontenot’s response seemed to confirm both points.

“I’ve been asked this question a couple times,” Fontenot said. “Every time I answer it, I go big picture. There’s competition at every position, and for every player. Everyone that comes in here, it’s the same situation. We’re going to have 90 players competing to be on the [53-man roster], 53 players competing to be on the [48-man roster] on a weekly basis.”

Fontenot isn’t the only Falcons decision-maker who hasn’t closed the door on Ridder starting in Week 1.

Head coach Arthur Smith echoed similar sentiments after the team selected Ridder, telling The Athletic that, as with any position, the best player is going to play.

It seems like Ridder is going to get a real shot to win the job.

The one advantage Mariota has in a competition with Ridder is experience, although he hasn’t played much over the last two years.

The 28-year-old veteran has thrown for one touchdown and 226 yards in 11 games since 2020.

Ridder is coming off his best collegiate season with Cincinnati, where he threw for 3,334 yards and 30 touchdowns in 14 games.

In a division featuring Tom Brady and a loaded New Orleans Saints defense, expectations can’t be too high in Atlanta. This could give Ridder the chance to gain valuable starting experience with little expectations or pressure.

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