Falcons rookie Calvin Ridley has veteran presence about him

Falcons 'uneasy' with Jones, T.O. relationship (1:37)

Jalen Rose is put off by Atlanta's discomfort with Julio Jones and Terrell Owens working out together. (1:37)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- It didn't take long for Atlanta Falcons right tackle Ryan Schraeder to notice what type of teammate he had in first-round draft pick Calvin Ridley.

Schraeder heard about the type of playmaking ability the rookie brought with him from Alabama. He also learned quickly in practice how Ridley's wide-receiver skills extended well beyond catching a tough pass or running a sharp route.

"He was highlighted during the meetings on a run play, making a great block," Schraeder said. "That told me he's going to fit in well here. And he's a humble kid."

Tight end Austin Hooper echoed those thoughts.

"Calvin is very talented and just has a great work ethic," Hooper said.

Free safety Ricardo Allen offered similar praise of Ridley from a defensive vantage point.

"One thing me and the veteran DBs already talked about and one of the things I'm already excited to see is him in Year 4 and Year 5," Allen said. "I know that's kind of jumping ahead early, but because he's such a disciplined route runner and because he already kind of moves like a veteran, I just want to see when he becomes a veteran how much better a player he's going to be.

"He's the real deal. And he's a good person. He's not walking around like he thinks he's hot s---. He's walking around like a really good dude."

Expectations are high for Ridley, the 26th overall pick who has yet to sign his rookie deal. He was under the microscope even more with the absence of top receiver Julio Jones, who is in the midst of a contract dispute and skipped mandatory minicamp. Although the Falcons would like Jones to be with the team rather than working out independently with Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, folks in the building are confident Jones is "enough of his own man" not to be swayed if Owens makes any negative suggestions, based on Owens' reputation for having a strong personality.

The Falcons contend they did not draft Ridley as insurance in case of an extended holdout by Jones. They thought Ridley would be selected in the top 15 and even considered what it would take to trade up to get him at that point, if necessary. All along, they viewed Ridley as an explosive difference-maker capable of complementing Jones and helping the offense regain its punch.

After a strong first impression during rookie minicamp and organized team activities, Ridley continued to impress during mandatory minicamp. He was featured more outside than inside, although he spent the final week of practice working some in the slot while also making a cameo on special teams as a return man.

"Comfort-wise, I think he came in a little bit ahead of the curve," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Ridley. "Not only did Alabama use some of the same pro-style concepts that we feature, but some of the terminology had even been the same. So you can imagine how excited he was to see the playbook and see some of the same language he'd been studying for three years. There was like some instant sense of like, 'OK, they call it the same thing here.' So that was helpful.

"Then on the field, the different depths of routes ... [Ridley was] so mindful to get it exactly right, the right depth. And as the practices went on, you saw more of the speed come because he had real assurance of the right spot, the right space, where to break guys off. So I'm encouraged. I really am. The speed, the athleticism, all the things you saw on tape, that came to life. I knew he was a good competitor. I probably didn't know how strong a football IQ he has. You can tell he's really equipped in that way."

Now, Ridley wasn't entirely flawless. He had a couple drops down the middle, one during 11-on-11 and one during individual drills. He was whistled for being offside on a Mohamed Sanu red zone catch during one OTA session. But even when he made a mistake, one could see Ridley's eagerness to put it behind him and make the next play. His willingness to be coached hard by wide receivers coach Raheem Morris and the other offensive coaches also was evident, although he almost put Morris on the ground with a stutter-step as Morris was trying to defend a fade route.

Morris yelled out an expletive rather loudly during the process. Opposing cornerbacks might be doing the same once the season starts if Ridley plays up to his seemingly limitless potential.

"I feel pretty good about how I've performed out here and bonded with the team," Ridley said. "I definitely need to clean up a lot of things. But I feel pretty good about myself, where I'm at right now."