It’s been 545 days and counting since Calvin Ridley has played in an NFL game, but the wide receiver still feels he’s at the top of his game. The former Atlanta Falcon stepped away from football after Week 7 of the 2021 season to focus on his mental health, and then missed the entire 2022 season due to suspension as he violated the league’s gambling policy.
The league reinstated Ridley, who joined the Jacksonville Jaguars via trade on Nov. 1, this offseason. Despite playing just five games in the last two seasons, he’s remained confident this offseason on what he’s bringing to his new team.
“What I am saying is, I am a 1,400-yard receiver with a broke foot,” Ridley said on Wednesday (via NFL.com). “So I know that I can make the plays and I know that I am one of the better receivers in this league.”
After watching and rewatching film from the Jags’ 2022 season, Ridley knows he can help lead their offense.
“I can be that player they try to get the ball to [on the] first play of the game,” he said. “I can get that energy going, pop off first play.”
Rather than looking at his time off as a setback, Ridley says it was a way for him to hone in on improving his game.
“They say ‘two years off,’ but what about the healing process? What if I got faster and stronger? I certainly got wiser, so why not?” he said. “I used the whole suspension to get back to being Calvin Ridley.”
Ridley has nothing but positive feedback for his time with the Jaguars so far, saying, “It’s been amazing” and that Jacksonville “could be a good home for me.”
“I love my QB right now, I love my teammates, the other wide receivers that I’m playing with,” Ridley said of Trevor Lawrence, who he has had multiple throwing sessions with since his reinstatement.
Lawrence also seems thrilled with the addition of the receiver, complimenting Ridley’s talent and approach.
“He’s been awesome,” Lawrence said. “He’s hungry. He’s excited to be here. He’s got the right attitude. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed, and then on the field, I mean, he’s a freak. Just the way he runs routes, how explosive he is, great hands. Seems like he’s picking stuff up.
“I’m just excited to have him a part of our room. It seems like he’s really jelling with the guys great,” Lawrence continued.
In the last full season he played, 2020, Ridley was dealing with a broken foot, but still managed to put up solid numbers. In 15 games, he finished with 1,374 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.
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