After being shut out on Thursday Night Football by the Patriots, some Falcons were made available to the media on Friday. Atlanta is reeling after dropping back-to-back games without scoring a touchdown — three points in two weeks. There are many things to fix, but a big step in the right direction would be welcoming star receiver Calvin Ridley back. As of Friday, though, Arthur Smith had no update on Ridley’s situation.
Falcons HC Arthur Smith said "no update" on Calvin Ridley or Matt Gono.
Cordarrelle Patterson is day-to-day
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) November 19, 2021
Again on Monday, Smith had no update for Ridley.
Falcons HC Arthur Smith said there's no update on Calvin Ridley or Matt Gono.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) November 22, 2021
Just before the Falcons matchup with the Panthers in Week 8, Ridley was ruled out for the game and later announced he would be taking a leave of absence to focus on his mental well-being. He explained his decision in a statement posted on Twitter and Instagram on Halloween.
— CALVIN RIDLEY (@CalvinRidley1) October 31, 2021
Most Falcons fans have been 100% supportive of Ridley’s decision to step away from football at the moment; what is even more encouraging is the staff’s handling of the situation. Arthur Smith was asked about the situation when appearing on The Rich Eisen Show a week ago, and his response will give you confidence in him as a human being.
“With all our players, we care about every person we have in this building,” Smith said via Falcons Wire. “This football staff is a part of this team, from the equipment room, the video room, to the players, to the coaches, to everybody that’s part of this team. I think what you’re realizing now is, in football you can see physical injuries. As we realize in society, certainly some things have came to light, whether it was COVID or the things that have gone on with mental health. You look at the veterans coming out of 20 years of warfare. There’s a lot of invisible injuries and they’re serious and anybody that needs help with anything, whether it’s a visible injury or invisible injury, we’ll do everything we can to help them.”
“Like everybody, I don’t disclose people’s injuries. Players can speak, Calvin put out a statement. I’ll let Calvin speak for Calvin, just like I would for anyone on this team. If they want to talk about a knee injury, that’s their prerogative to talk about. It’s not going to come from me,” Smith said to Eisen.
“The way you look at it, big picture, there’s always things with every player and you can’t worry. I take it back to any injury anybody has, something comes up and there’s a life event. There’s a lot of guys on this roster, we have different guys that play week to week. We don’t force anything, we wouldn’t force anybody back from any kind of injury. So, we take it day by day, or week by week, and that’s how we view it. There’s no timetable on it, nor would I push anybody on that.”
The Falcons are in dire need of a reliable wideout, and even if he wasn’t having a great season, Calvin Ridley can threaten opposing defenses in ways no other receiver on the roster can. His mental struggles may have been a cause of his poor play earlier in the season, but the Falcons need him now more than ever. Just because I say the Falcons need him doesn’t mean I am for expediting him to come back; it is crazy I have to say that. I fully support Calvin and anyone else going through a mental health crisis, but that doesn’t take away from the fact the Falcons need wide receiver help badly.