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Falcons name Ridder starting QB

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Quarterback Desmond Ridder will begin next season as the Atlanta Falcons' starter, head coach Arthur Smith announced Tuesday.

"The plan is to start Desmond," Smith told reporters at the league's annual meetings, according to ESPN's Michael Rothstein. "That's our plan going forward right now."

Ridder, 23, was selected in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Cincinnati product spent most of the season backing up Marcus Mariota. He was elevated to the starring role following the team's Week 14 bye, starting the final four games of the regular season.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Ridder posted a 2-2 record. He passed for 708 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions with a 63.5% completion rate.

Atlanta signed Taylor Heinicke earlier in March after releasing Mariota in February. The former Washington Commanders signal-caller said he was joining the Falcons as a backup.

Smith didn't want to address the Falcons' potential interest in former MVP Lamar Jackson, who requested a trade from the Baltimore Ravens.

"I'm always going to focus on us," Smith said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. "I don't want to speculate about guys that are not on our roster."

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