“I Know I Was A Very Dominant And Explosive Player” | Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley Says He’s Still Him Even After Nearly Two-Year Hiatus From Gridiron

The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a very successful first-year under head coach Doug Pederson. One which saw them win their division and a playoff game. They did this with a very good receiving corps of Christian Kirk who earned every bit of that $18 million salary that he signed for last offseason. His sidekick in Zay Jones was great, as were veteran Marvin Jones Jr. and a rejuvenated and locked-in Evan Engram. 

While all of that sounds great, just imagine if they’d had former Alabama and Atlanta Falcons star Calvin Ridley. Yup, that’s right, Ridley, a former first-round pick who was coming of his first 1000-yard season in 2020, took a mental break in 2021, and then was suspended for all of 2022 for gambling while still a Falcon. Ridley was traded to Duval County in November 2022 while still on suspension. Now he gets to shine for the fast-rising Jaguars, and his arrival gives star QB Trevor Lawrence a bona fide No. 1 receiver. 

Ridley Ready To Redeem Himself, Shredding Defense At Camp

Ridley missed 640 days from the game over the past two seasons, and the dynamic pass catcher is looking to make up for lost time. In an interview with Jeff Howe of The Athletic on Wednesday, the Florida native had a lot to say. 

“I want to get back to doing what I do, because I love football. … That’s what I’m here to do,” Ridley said.

After stepping away from football following Week 6 of the 2021 season for health concerns both mental and physical, Ridley began placing bets on NFL games. That’s a no-no, and Ridley admitted he was in a “dark place,” when he did that. He told Howe this in the interview:

“Everything is better, and I’m back to everything.”

“Like everyone says, I haven’t played football in two years,” Ridley said. “But even when I did play, I know I was a very dominant and explosive player. Right now, I’m more motivated than ever and ready to get back whatever I lost. I’m around a bunch of great teammates, great coaches, a great facility. I feel the energy. I just want to continue to build, build, and build. I love football, man. I’m not here for the money and all that. I’m here because I love football.” 

Jags Offense Is Absolutely Loaded

Coming into the 2023 season the Jags have one of the best group of skilled position players in the entire NFL. Starting with the aforementioned Lawrence, who’s coming off a season of 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He’s flanked in the backfield by do-it-all halfback Travis Etienne, who totaled over 1,400 total yards last season. The aforementioned Kirk, Jones and Engram combined for 239 receptions and over 2,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

Adding a player of Ridley’s caliber to this unit is gonna be trouble for opposing teams in the AFC South and AFC as a whole. 

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