Atlanta Falcons’ Calvin Ridley out for battle with New York Jets in London
The Atlanta Falcons announced on Thursday that top receiver Calvin Ridley will be unavailable for Sunday’s international tilt against the New York Jets in London (9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network). Ridley, a fourth-year man and first-round pick from 2018, is the Falcons’ top receiver and tied for fifth in the NFL with 1,374 yards last season.
“Due to a personal matter, Calvin Ridley will not travel to the Falcons game in London this weekend,” the Falcons said in a statement. “We are in support of Calvin during this time and will respect his privacy on the matter.”
In the same statement, the Falcons (1-3) announced that Ridley’s fellow receiver Russell Gage and defensive end Marlon Davidson would also not make the flight to London.
Ridley leads the Falcons with 63.8 receiving yards, 6.8 receptions, and 10.5 targets per game this season.
Gage was Atlanta’s third-leading receiver in 2020 behind Ridley and Julio Jones with 49.1 receiving yards per game. He is down to an average of 14.0 over two appearances this year, but he is the team’s No. 2 wideout as he ranks second at the position in snaps per game behind Ridley with 43.5. Gage will miss his third consecutive game.
Davidson is a rotational defensive tackle who has eight tackles and one sack over three games this season while playing 19.7 snaps per game.
Tajae Sharpe is expected to gain extra reps at wide receiver in the foreign duel while tight end Kyle Pitts and running back/receiver Cordarrelle Patterson should also earn extra targets in Ridley’s absence. Olamide Zaccheaus is expected to continue stepping in for Gage, as he has the previous two games.
The Jets (1-3) will thus go consecutive weeks without seeing a team’s top receivers, having missed out on A.J. Brown and Julio Jones last week against Tennessee. New York withstood a 157-yard performance from Titans running back Derrick Henry to steal a 27-24 decision in overtime.
The showdown against Atlanta provides a reunion for Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, who had been involved in the Falcons’ defense in each of the last six seasons, including a brief stint as the team’s defensive coordinator last year after head coach Dan Quinn was fired in-season.
Despite traveling with momentum and working against Atlanta’s lack of playmakers and struggling defense, Jets head coach Robert Saleh stressed that Gang Green must handle its own business. He praised the offense for finishing opportunities in the win over the Titans, a game that saw the Jets earn three touchdowns after entering the game with only two.
“The one thing that we’ve been noticing is that our offense has been putting together drives in the first half, it’s just a matter of finishing,” Saleh said on Wednesday, per notes from the Jets. “(We) put together a really nice drive against Denver, and we had a chance to finish it, didn’t work out the way we wanted on the angle route to Michael Carter, that could’ve got us an explosive and some points.”
“But (against the Titans), we finished the drive, and when we finish that drive, you could just feel the entire sideline just, “All right, let’s go.” Went into the locker room (down) 9-7, and from then it’s just when you have a young group and they get a little bit of success early, and that success can snowball, and these guys become invincible.”
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags