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Desmond Ridder's QB2 Battle Won't Change Approach

Whether it's the first snap or snap No. 1,063, prep stays the same

New Cardinals quarterback Desmond Ridder when he last played at State Farm Stadium, this past season with the Falcons.
New Cardinals quarterback Desmond Ridder when he last played at State Farm Stadium, this past season with the Falcons.

Even if he isn't playing, Desmond Ridder understands that in a blink of an eye, that could all change. 

The new Cardinals quarterback won't be starting in Arizona. That's Kyler Murray's job. Ridder's job is prepare for that blink.

"What you've got to learn is that all it takes is one play," Ridder said. "Four to six seconds is the average length of a play and that's how quick you can become the starter again, so you have to be ready."

Ridder has been on the backup-to-starter roller coaster ever since he entered the league. After being 'The Guy' at the University of Cincinnati, Ridder spent majority of his rookie season on the sidelines with Marcus Mariota serving as the Falcons starter. Four times in 2022 and 13 times in 2023, Ridder was the starter in Atlanta.

Now he has been traded to a new spot with the depth chart more clear. There isn't a battle for the starting job -- it belongs to Murray. Even with that understanding, it hasn't changed Ridder's approach as he trains for the season.

"When you talk about my rookie year and coming in and being behind Marcus, I was coming in to learn like I was a starter and it didn't matter whether I was the fourth quarterback or the first quarterback on the roster," Ridder said. "Whenever it may be, you have to be ready to go and make it a smooth transition from the so-called starter to backup."

Coach Jonathan Gannon said that there will still be a battle for second-string between Ridder and Clayton Tune. How to treat a former starter who is becoming a backup does have some nuance.

"I think guys that are competing to be backups that are backups, there's different levels of that," Gannon said. "How many years have you been in (the league)? Have you been a starter? Have you never been a starter? Are you a second-year guy who's still developing and working on your game, like, we don't know what your ceiling is yet and neither do you."

There's a belief and a profound sense of confidence that all three players in the quarterback room have an ability to help the team win. With Murray commanding the huddle, especially if he can replicate his performance in the final four games, the Cardinals always have a chance to win.

In college, Ridder was also a proven winner. He took Cincinnati to the College Football Playoffs and beat his "younger brother" Tune and the University of Houston in the American Athletic Conference title game.

He believes coming into the room makes for a "perfect combination."

"Most of my life I've been the most athletic. I've been able to jump the highest, run the fastest, but Kyler might have me in that 40 or that 10 split just by a couple of seconds," Ridder said. "I think it's a good combination of the three. We all have three different types of skill sets and all perfected in a different craft in other ways. It's going to be fun out there to get to throw with them, get through OTAs and see how they learn and see how they work."

While they each bring their own abilities to the offense, Gannon said that offensive coordinator Drew Petzing wouldn't need to change much of the play calling regardless of who is operating the huddle. Ridder's mobility is an added dimension.

"As far as defending those guys, I think it's just a little bit harder," Gannon said. "I do like what we do on offense as far as some of the move the pocket stuff and some of the quarterback run game. We won't miss a beat with those guys."

Confidence and quarterback need to go hand in hand in order for there to be success on the gridiron. Since his approach isn't changing going into this season, Ridder feels ready to go if his number is called.

"I feel very confident going into Year Three," Ridder said. "Learning not to go out there and worry about making mistakes. You just got to go out there and play the ball and play how you know to play, because when you go out there, play free, play smooth, and trust the other 10 guys out there on the field and play within the system. Usually, good things are going to happen."

The Pro Bowl Cheerleaders consist of one member from each cheer team in the NFL. The selections represent their team at the Pro Bowl, joining the selections from the other teams in their conference to perform throughout the event. The Cardinals Pro Bowl Cheerleader selection process has varied over the years, but is currently determined by a team vote.