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Can Falcons rookie Calvin Ridley maintain record-setting pace?

ATLANTA -- Everyone knew how much talent Calvin Ridley had coming out of Alabama. The start of his rookie season simply verified just how dynamic the Atlanta Falcons wide receiver truly can be.

Ridley, the 26th overall pick, became the first rookie in NFL history to have six touchdown receptions in his first four games after his two-touchdown effort against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. Ridley leads the NFL with his six touchdown catches, one ahead of the Bengals' A.J. Green.

Ridley is on pace for 24 touchdown receptions over the 16-game season, which would set an NFL record. Hall of Famer Randy Moss holds the mark with 23 in 2007. Moss also owns the rookie record with 17 in 1998.

OK, maybe it's way too early to talk about shattering NFL records, but Ridley certainly should establish a new Falcons rookie high. Tight end Junior Miller owns it with nine touchdown receptions in 1980. Julio Jones has the team mark for a rookie wide receiver with eight in 2011.

The Falcons' overall record for touchdown receptions in a season is 15, set by Andre Rison in 1993. It was Rison's fifth season in the league.

What makes Ridley's start that much more impressive is his red zone statistics. He has five receptions on five targets with four touchdowns.

Although Ridley's sharp route running has helped establish separation from defenders, it certainly helps to have arguably the most dangerous threat in the NFL opposite him in Jones, the five-time Pro Bowler. Although Jones leads the NFL with 502 yards on 29 receptions, he has yet to score a touchdown. And Ridley has been the beneficiary.

"He's done an excellent job for us coming in, and the reason he's gotten those looks is because we got a pretty good guy on the other side," quarterback Matt Ryan said of Ridley. "And Julio creates matchup problems for the defense and requires so much coverage that other guys get really good opportunities. Calvin has taken advantage of those opportunities and done a really nice job."

Ridley is third on the Falcons with 15 receptions, behind Jones and Mohamed Sanu (16). Ridley's 264 receiving yards are second behind Jones, but his 17.6 yards per reception leads the team and is tied for ninth best in the league.

Can Ridley keep up his torrid pace? Probably so, if defenses continue to focus on Jones and leave Ridley one-on-one, with his speed and ability to establish separation. The next two opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have surrendered 13 and 12 passing touchdowns, respectively, to rank at the bottom of the league.