Ridder Reinstated as Starting QB for Falcons’ Crucial NFC South Showdown Against Saints

The Atlanta Falcons returned from their bye facing a must-win game against NFC South rival New Orleans. Coach Arthur Smith says Desmond Ridder gives the Falcons their best chance to win on Sunday. The Falcons were 4-4 with Ridder as the starter, but the second-year quarterback was benched because of his inability to avoid turnovers and sacks. Taylor Heinicke started the last two games but suffered a hamstring injury in Atlanta’s 25-23 loss at Arizona on Nov. 12. Heinicke was not available for Monday’s practice, but Smith said the decision to name Ridder as the starter was “absolutely” intended to last the remainder of the season and was not based on Heinicke’s health. “We have a lot of confidence in Des and think the last couple of weeks he has handled it really well with a lot of things going on,” Smith said. Ridder impressed Smith with his play in a backup role against Arizona, including his 9-yard run for a touchdown late in the game. Smith said Ridder made good use of his time observing from the sideline in the past two games and in the bye week. Logan Woodside would be Ridder’s backup against the Saints if Heinicke is not active. The Falcons have lost four of five games. Turnovers were part of the problem, including Ridder’s six interceptions and seven fumbles. Smith said he saw Ridder’s confidence restored in his relief role against Arizona. “He’s done a lot of good things,” Smith said. “I think clearly you could see, everybody who was there and watched Arizona, how prepared he was and played very confident and said he wanted the ball in his hands. We had a lot of confidence in Desmond before.”