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Marcus Mariota Named Falcons' Starting QB over Desmond Ridder at Start of Camp

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 27, 2022

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

It didn't take long into training camp for Marcus Mariota to establish himself as the starting quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons.

"Obviously, we've got a plan for each of them. Marcus is the starter," quarterbacks coach Charles London said when discussing Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder after the initial practice of training camp on Wednesday, per Josh Kendall of The Athletic. "That’s how we're going into this thing."

London continued, saying "I expect those guys to compete. Right now, Marcus is the starter, and he's doing a great job."

Mariota signed a two-year, $18.75 million deal with the Falcons this offseason and immediately became the presumed starter since they also traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts.

However, it was fair to wonder if his starting job was in jeopardy when the NFC South team selected Cincinnati's Ridder in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

Ridder helped the Bearcats become the first Group of Five conference team to reach the College Football Playoff this past season when he completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 3,334 yards, 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 355 yards and six scores on the ground.

While Ridder's ceiling is certainly high and he may ultimately get an opportunity down the road, he can't match Mariota's experience at this point.

The Oregon product first became a household name when he won the Heisman Trophy and led the Ducks to the CFP national championship game. The Tennessee Titans then selected him with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft and made him a starter during his rookie season.

Mariota started 61 games for the Titans during the next five seasons and even guided the team to a playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2017 campaign. He threw for more than 3,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017.

However, he was just a backup with the Las Vegas Raiders the past two years and has not started a game since losing his starting job to Ryan Tannehill in 2019.

At his best, Mariota can make plays with both his legs and his arm, and he will surely rely on tight end Kyle Pitts and rookie wide receiver Drake London while looking to lead the Falcons to a quick start this season.

If that quick start never comes, Ridder will be waiting in the wings.

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