JACKSONVILLE (Fla.) (AP). By the time Calvin Ridley stepped onto a Jacksonville Jaguars practice field a few months ago, he had already played a season.
Ridley had watched each snap Jacksonville made last season "10 or 12" times while he was wrapping up his one-year suspension for violating NFL gambling policy. He analyzed formations, routes, and coverages and imagined himself in those situations with Lawrence, Christian Kirk Zay Jones, and Evan Engram.
He could only do so much from a distance. He hopes that it will help to catch up, and perhaps even be better after a two-year hiatus.
I know who am. Ridley told reporters on Wednesday that he could help. I mean it. I know that I can move the ball. We should be able move the ball.
Ridley was reinstated by the NFL in early November, allowing him to join his team in Jacksonville. Ridley has spent the last five weeks learning about the city, and more importantly, its playbook. He has already worked out with Lawrence and other players 'three times in four', catching the passes and getting an idea of what could be a dynamic offense.
The former Atlanta wideout, who played his last NFL game in 2021, has no doubt that he will be back to his best before the start of the new season in September.
He said, "If I am being real, if i'm being honest, i've always been good at soccer." I'm trying hard to be humble. As I said before, I have been good at football my whole life. I have not only been good at football, but I've also worked hard to be good.
What about my healing process? What if I became faster? What if I became stronger? Obviously, I became wiser. "Why can't I do better?"
Ridley was acquired by the Jaguars from Atlanta during the November trade deadline. The Jaguars received a fifth round pick this year and a conditional 4th-rounder for 2024. The league suspended him after determining that he had bet on NFL matches in 2021, while away from his Falcons team to address mental concerns stemming a home invasion which he described in an article published last month by The Players Tribune.
Ridley's bets did not compromise any games or give Ridley inside information, according to NFL investigators.
Ridley is now entering his final year of the rookie contract. The Jaguars expect him to be a key piece in an offense that ranked fifth in 2022 for total yards.
He is excited to be in this place. He has the right attitude. That's what I noticed most. You know, he's a freak. Just look at the way he runs his routes and how explosive he can be. Amazing hands.
It seems that he is picking up the material quickly.
Ridley was able to catch 90 passes in 2020, despite a left foot injury. He had 1,374 yard and nine touchdowns. Before missing the last two months of 2021, he had 31 receptions totaling 281 yards with two touchdowns.
He is essentially starting all over again in Jacksonville, shaking hands with every person in the building to let them know that he's serious and committed to the game.
He has also not backed down on his belief that Jacksonville will get a 1,400 yard receiver despite the long layoff. This is a mark that's only happened twice in franchise's history (Jimmy Smith racked up 1,636 in 1999, and Allen Robinson racked up 1,400 in 2015.
Ridley stated, 'I am a 1,400 yard type of player.' God will determine the stats that I have. Football is serious. You can't play 17 straight games and expect to be healthy and in each one.
"So, what I'm telling you is that I am a 140-yard receiver who has a broken foot. What am I saying? I know I can make the plays, and I also know I'm among the best receivers in the league. That's exactly what I am saying.