The Atlanta Falcons benched quarterback Desmond Ridder and will start Taylor Heinicke against the Minnesota Vikings, head coach Arthur Smith announced Wednesday.
Ridder will prepare as the backup quarterback.
“Just for this week, just with all the variables. Just considering everything the last 72 hours and what we feel is best for this week for us against Minnesota, Taylor will play,” Smith said.
Heinicke started the second half against the Tennessee Titans in Week 8 after Ridder left the game to be evaluated for a concussion. Ridder cleared protocol and was on the sideline with his helmet in the fourth quarter.
Ridder was sacked five times in the contest while completing eight passes for 71 yards.
Heinicke completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta scored 20 second-half points compared to only three in the first half.
Ridder has struggled in eight starts this season, leading the league in turnovers with 12. He’s thrown for 1,701 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. Atlanta’s offense ranks 28th in points per game.
Heinicke signed a two-year, $14-million contract with the Falcons last offseason. He started 24 games for the Washington Commanders from 2021-22, going 12-11-1 with 5,278 passing yards and 32 touchdowns.