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Falcons rookie QB Ridder impresses Smith as a quick learner

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) walks off the field at the conclusion of the...
Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) walks off the field at the conclusion of the College Football Playoff game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the 86th Cotton Bowl Classic, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats, 27-6.(Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 11:00 PM EDT
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder has impressed himself — and coach Arthur Smith — with his ability to quickly absorb the Atlanta Falcons’ playbook.

Ridder is still considered the challenger to veteran Marcus Mariota in the Falcons’ quarterback competition. Ridder, the third-round draft pick from Cincinnati, could gain ground quickly. Smith handed Ridder praise when he said “He’s light years ahead of most other young quarterbacks from the neck up.” Mariota is expected to open the season as the starter. The Falcons signed Mariota on the same day they traded Matt Ryan to Indianapolis.

Mariota has served as a mentor for Ridder.

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