Ridley fought through fatigue, frustration in Falcons' 2018 season

Knox Bardeen
January 11, 2019 - 3:28 pm
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley

© Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

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Calvin Ridley, the Atlanta Falcons' first-round draft pick (26th overall) in 2018, put up monster numbers for a first-year player in the NFL.

His 821 receiving yards led all rookies, and so did his 10 touchdown catches and 39 receptions for first downs. His 64 catches was second in the rookie class to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.

But, as good as Ridley looked during his 2018 campaign, there were issues he fought through, both from an individual standpoint and as a part of a team that underachieved.

Ridley joined Dukes & Bell Friday to promote a campaign he did with Pepsi & Kroger and said that the "Rookie Wall" was definitely real and something he experienced. He said he'll re-train his body because he showed signs of both mental and physical fatigue. His numbers don't necessarily tell that same story. You can hear more about the campaign and his involvement in the full radio interview below:

Although he did score 60 percent of his 10 touchdowns in the first month of the season and his receiving yards went down from 463 in the first half of the season to 358 in the second half, his targets went up 31 percent over that same time.

Dring that same time when fatigue was setting in, the Falcons followed up a three-game winning streak with a five-game skid. More frustrating that the losing was the inability to figure out why.

Ridley told Dukes & Bell that head coach Dan Quinn never wavered through the five-game losing streak. He was the same coach. He always believed the Falcons were one of the best teams in the NFL, there was just an issue with finding out why the team couldn't close out games. Atlanta was practicing well and hard, just not winning.

While Quinn was steadfast in his idea on how good his team was, Ridley got frustrated.

"Man, we really have it, we honestly have it," Ridley told Dukes & Bell in terms on the Falcons having a highly talented roster. "I can see it. I see it every day. I kind of got frustrated myself with the losing. I couldn't understand why we couldn't finish the games.

"I want to be a part of a championship, a Super Bowl, [participate in the] playoffs, that's where I want to be. That's where I think we're going to be next year. I'm going to work hard to put myself in a position to help this team any way I can."

Ridley has a lot to work on, from both a mental and physical standpoint. What's not in question is the notion of talent in Flowery Branch. Ridley will be able to build off his rookie numbers, and his team should turn the corner in the win column too.

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