After having offseason foot surgery, Ridley said Tuesday his foot is “totally, definitely fixed” as he enters the 2021 season as the team’s top wide receiver after Atlanta traded Julio Jones to Tennessee in June.
Despite a foot he said “was not good last year,” Ridley caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns in 2020. Atlanta, seeing him as a potential piece for the future, picked up his fifth-year option this spring.
“In the offseason, I was really worried about myself,” Ridley said. “But now, the best thing I could have did was get the surgery and it really helped.”
Ridley didn’t want to speculate on the numbers he could put up when he is healthy, but the Falcons are taking somewhat of a cautious approach with their star pass-catcher. Ridley said working with a longer-term plan to make sure he remains healthy has been difficult on him — he’s used to being as full-speed as possible as fast as possible — but he understands there’s larger things at play.
This is part of why head coach Arthur Smith said they are going to work Ridley in and continue to add to his workload as things go.
“With Calvin, there’s a long-term plan,” Smith said. “The good thing about Calvin, you got to pull him back and he understands the big picture bringing him along. More reps today and we’ll continue to see how he progresses.
“Really happy with Calvin and what he’s brought so far.”
This, though, is Ridley’s receiving corps now as he’s going to be without Jones full-time for the first time in his career.
He’ll lead a group of pass-catchers including receiver Russell Gage and tight ends Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst.
With that, Ridley also knows that means younger players could come to him for advice. He said it happened in years past, too, but it may occur more now that Jones is elsewhere.
“They are really just saying, ‘What did you see?’ Or what you would have did, or what should I have done,” Ridley said. “That’s really it.”
But it is a new role — one Ridley is embracing in his spot in the offense.