Oct 29, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA;  Atlanta Falcons quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) calls the play against the Tennessee Titans during the second at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

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Falcons bench QB Desmond Ridder, Taylor Heinicke to start

Desmond Ridder was benched in favor of backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who will start for the Atlanta Falcons against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

“Just for this week,” Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said on Wednesday. “With all the variables, best for this week with Minnesota, Taylor will be playing this week.”

Ridder is healthy and available and is Atlanta’s No. 2 quarterback.

“He is cleared and available,” Smith said.

Ridder was benched in the second half last week and replaced by Heinicke in a 28-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Heinicke completed 12 of his 21 passes 175 yards and a touchdown.

The 30-year-old Heinicke signed as an unrestricted free agent in March. He has 25 career starts in 34 games with the Washington Commanders, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans.

Ridder was evaluated for a concussion and cleared of a head injury, but he did not play in the second half. He was sacked five times and lost a fumble in the first half.

Rookie Jaren Hall is expected to start for the Vikings with Kirk Cousins out for the season. Cousins sustained a season-ending Achilles injury last week.

A third-round pick in 2022, Ridder has been the starter for the Falcons since Week 14 last season, when he replaced Marcus Mariota.

He is 6-6 as a starter but has 13 turnovers this season, including seven lost fumbles.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.


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