Calvin Ridley hasn't played a football game in nearly a year and a half, but he's not backing away from making some big predictions for his second act with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"What I am saying is, I am a 1,400-yard receiver with a broke foot," Ridley said Wednesday from Phase 1 of the team's offseason program. "So I know that I can make the plays and I know that I am one of the better receivers in this league."
Ridley spoke with Jaguars media and opened up about his tumultuous past few years that have changed his career arc. First, Ridley put up a monster season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2020 with 1,374 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 15 games -- all while playing with a broken foot, he recently revealed at The Players’ Tribune.
Then in 2021, after rushing back to the field following summer foot surgery, Ridley stepped away from the Falcons while grappling with his mental well-being. The following offseason, Ridley was suspended indefinitely by the league for gambling on NFL games.
"It's been amazing," Ridley said of his brief experience with the Jaguars so far, adding that when the trade went down he immediately felt Jacksonville "could be a good home for me."
Ridley has been in Jacksonville for about five weeks now, but Trevor Lawrence said on Wednesday they've gotten in "three or four" throwing sessions together with other Jaguars receivers to this point. The early returns are encouraging, his new quarterback said.
"He's been awesome," Lawrence said. "He's hungry. He's excited to be here. He's got the right attitude. I think that's the biggest thing I've noticed and then on the field, I mean, he's a freak. Just the way he runs routes, how explosive he is, great hands. Seems like he's picking stuff up.
"I'm just excited to have him a part of our room. It seems like he's really jelling with the guys great."
The feeling appears to be mutual.
"I love my QB right now, I love my teammates, the other wide receivers that I'm playing with," Ridley said.
Ridley has watched every Jaguars offensive play from the 2022 season "10 or 12 times," he said, and believes he can help the offense start faster in games.
"I can be that player they try to get the ball to (on the) first play of the game," he said. "I can get that energy going, pop off first play."
Ridley believes that his year-plus off from football not only recharged him mentally but also physically. He'd played with the small break in his foot for more than a year and Ridley said part of the reason he didn't appeal the gambling suspension was because he knew he needed the time to get healthy. Ridley now thinks his best could be yet to come.
"They say 'two years off,' but what about the healing process? What if I got faster and stronger? I certainly got wiser, so why not?" he said.
Ridley added: "I used the whole suspension to get back to being Calvin Ridley."