Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley unexpectedly missed the trip to London to face off against the New York Jets in Week 5. The Falcons nonetheless came away with a decisive win despite missing both Ridley and Russell Gage. The team was tight-lipped about Ridley’s missed game, with fans unsure of why Ridley missed the game or when to expect him to return.
Ian Rapoport had the scoop on Ridley, and in what is becoming quite common around the league, Ridley took time off to get himself in the right mental spot.
From @NFLGameDay: #Giants RB Saquon Barkley is out today and has an outside chance at next week. He should be back by Nov. 7. Meanwhile, the #Falcons welcome back star WR Calvin Ridley after a week away due to a mental health break. Kudus to ATL for taking care of their guy. pic.twitter.com/sk7Vp93Pxz— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 24, 2021
Rapoport passed along news that Ridley returned and had a great practice, looking ready to play against the Miami Dolphins.
More important, and most certainly a focus around the league in the last few seasons, is allowing players time to work on their mental health. Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson just returned from a mental health break, with other players this season receiving some time off. It may be easy to forget that players are put under the microscope in their early 20s, dealing with their coaching staff, fans, and social media throughout the entire season.
In that vein, Arthur Smith talked about his careful deliberation in not overloading rookies during the off-season and preseason in light of rookies’ demanding schedules. Just out of their teens, these players are completing their final year of college ball, transitioning right to draft preparations, the combine, workouts, interviews, the draft, rookie minicamp, training camp, preseason, then 17 games of regular season games. And if things go well, playoffs.
It is a lot to put on players, and it is frankly no wonder so many flame out despite promising careers. You don’t want to guess what players dealt with such issues, but you may wonder what players would have had a better career in Atlanta with some additional focus on mental health. Instead, those players may have moved to inactive then off of the roster.
The Falcons are rightly making a long-term decision with Ridley and allowing him time off to get right and return refreshed and ready. His future with the Falcons remains up in the air, but it should be the best for the player and the team through the remainder of the season if Ridley is at 100%.
We wish Ridley well and a strong return in black and red.