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Arthur Smith: We think Desmond Ridder gives us the best chance

The Falcons are back to rolling with Desmond Ridder, as head coach Arthur Smith made the expected announcement that the 2022 third-round pick is back as the club’s QB1.

After starting Atlanta’s first eight games of the season, Ridder will start again when the Falcons host the Saints on Sunday.

The Falcons are coming off a Week 11 bye. While Taylor Heinicke started against the Cardinals in Week 10, Ridder had to come back in and finish the game because Heinicke suffered a hamstring injury. Heinicke is still sidelined to begin the week, Smith said.

“Des did a nice job having to come back in that game, gave us a chance,” Smith said. “Situation is where it’s at, so we think Des gives us the best chance. And then on top of that, Taylor won’t practice this week. We’ve got to assess throughout the week to even see what his role is going to be on Sunday.

“So we’ll just monitor that as it goes, but we have a lot of confidence in Des. We think the last couple of weeks, he’s handled it really well — a lot of things going on. I think the reset will be very beneficial for him.”

Ridder has completed 65.4 percent of his throws for 1,740 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He was benched midway through the Week 8 loss to the Titans for Heinicke, who has completed 41-of-74 passes for 498 yards with three touchdowns and one pick in his three appearances.

The Falcons would surely like Ridder to solidify himself as the club’s quarterback of the future in the last seven games of the season. But Ridder has plenty to prove over that span, particularly with the NFC South divisional race still completely up in the air.