The Atlanta Falcons are planning to start rookie third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder instead of Marcus Mariota when the team plays its next game in Week 15, the team announced Thursday.
Ridder, 23, was twice named the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year while playing for Cincinnati in the NCAA. He was selected 74th overall by the Falcons in the 2022 NFL Draft, the second quarterback taken overall.
The Falcons have lost two straight games, and have a bye week this week, giving Ridder more time to prepare as they look to see what they have in the rookie. At 5-8, Atlanta still has an outside shot at the playoffs as they trail the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers by just a game and a half.
Mariota, 29, was drafted second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. He is playing for his third NFL team, after spending two years as a backup in Las Vegas with the Raiders.
He has a 61.3 completion percentage rate this season, with 2219 passing yards and 15 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He also has chipped in 438 rushing yards and four touchdowns in an offence largely bereft of talent with star tight end Kyle Pitts already on the injured reserve.
Ridder will make his debut on Sunday, Dec. 18 against the New Orleans Saints.