Falcons going back to Desmond Ridder for rest of season

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Desmond Ridder is officially back as the Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback -- and not just for one week, but for the rest of the season.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith said Monday they made the decision to return to Ridder and they believe he "gives them the best chance."

Ridder officially sat two games and one quarter for the Falcons -- he was benched at halftime of the Tennessee game in favor of Taylor Heinicke and then entered in relief of Heinicke after the veteran QB injured a hamstring in the fourth quarter of a Week 10 loss to Arizona.

Smith said Heinicke is not guaranteed to practice this week with the hamstring injury, and if he can't go Sunday, Logan Woodside would be Ridder's backup. But Smith said he's hoping the different vantage point for Ridder of watching Heinicke could help in the long term.

"There was a lot of things going on," Smith said. "Everybody's got their own stories, or you look at the history certain things that have gone on with different players and quarterbacks and things have come up.

"... Whether they're unusual or, you know, more traditional, I think it's different for every player. So, there's a lot going on, but I think things, the way they worked out, I think we're in a good spot and certainly Des is prepared and fired up and ready to go."

Ridder said he "felt great" about the decision to become the starter again, having used the time on the bench to assess both his own play and that of the offense. He said he looked at the energy of the team and the small things which might have helped him protect the ball better -- footwork, his reads and his progressions while also "staying calm back there."

"My job is to be a starting quarterback in this league," Ridder said Monday. "And so every day I come in here and everyone, no matter quarterback, running back, doesn't matter your position, wants to be that starter.

"It just so happens that in our position there's only one guy that can be a starter and that's my job, so I got to take it and run with it."

Watching Ridder in the fourth quarter against Arizona, Smith saw confidence and a player who "wanted the ball in his hands." Now, it'll be in Ridder's hands again for the Falcons.

Ridder has completed 65.4% of his passes for 1,740 yards, 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions this season, with six lost fumbles. He has also rushed for four touchdowns.

"We've got a lot of confidence in Des," Smith said. "We think the last couple weeks he's handled it really well, a lot of things going on.

"I think the reset will be very beneficial for him."