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Kyle Pitts: Desmond Ridder grabbing Falcons 'by the reins' as starting quarterback

Desmond Ridder enters Year 2 with a shot to prove he's the Atlanta Falcons' franchise signal-caller.

Through the early stages of training camp, all the comments regarding the third-round pick emanating from Flowery Branch, Georgia, have been, well, umm, flowery.

Joining the chorus on Thursday was tight end Kyle Pitts, who joined NFL Network's Good Morning Football from training camp.

"I mean, now as he's the starting quarterback, he's definitely stepping into that role," Pitts said of Ridder. "He's been more vocal to the team and grabbing us up when our heads are maybe down. Kind of like those regular camp things, but just to see him step into this new role and grab his team by the reins, that's what we've all been waiting on."

Pitts' comments come on the heels of owner Arthur Blank's glowing assessment of the Falcons' starting quarterback earlier this week. Atlanta general manager Terry Fontenot added on Wednesday that the club remains "very excited about Desmond" after starting four games as a rookie.

"We saw him handle some adversity and we saw him respond to it," the GM said. "So, we believe in the makeup and the maturity, and then now we get into the offseason and it's about improvement as opposed to the immediate result. It's about the process of improvement and we're process-oriented organization. So, he's had a really good offseason and he's working hard to improve in all areas."

Ridder took a soft-spoken approach to all the praise shoveled his way during camp.

"That's comforting for me obviously, knowing that Mr. Blank and everyone in the organization believes in me and my skill set," Ridder said on Wednesday, via ESPN. "At the end of the day, for myself, it's about putting a higher expectation than even what they have for myself and going out and trying to exceed that and be better."

In a winnable NFC South, the Falcons have a shot at rising from the cellar of the division. With Pitts, Drake London, first-round running back Bijan Robinson and a solid offensive line, Ridder has the pieces around him to succeed in Year 2.

The bouquet of florid praise surrounding Ridder has been palpable. Now comes the hard part: living up to the offseason hype.

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