FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Desmond Ridder's drive to be first included an early start at the Atlanta Falcons' two-day rookie minicamp that wrapped up Saturday.
The quarterback's camp roommates — running back Tyler Allgeier, tight end John FitzPatrick and wide receiver Drake London — couldn't help but notice the pre-dawn activity in their apartment.
"I told Desmond, 'Don't be so loud in the morning,'" FitzPatrick said after Saturday's session. "He just wakes up early. I don't know. He's just loud. It's like a bull in a china shop."
Ridder, the former University of Cincinnati star selected in the third round of last month's NFL draft in Las Vegas, said he knows no other way.
"I try to be the first one in the building," he said.
On Saturday, he had to settle for the runner-up honor. Ridder said offensive lineman Tyler Vrabel, an undrafted rookie from Boston College and the son of Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, was the first in the practice facility.
Ridder's 6 a.m. wakeup call may have caused some grumbles, but his new teammates have praised his leadership skills. Ridder said he strives to be a player his teammates can lean on when there are questions about learning the Falcons' playbook.
And he wants to take full advantage of his preparation time before practice. He said the rookies were given the playbook about 10 days before the minicamp, and he believed it was important for him to learn the plays before working with others.
"These guys see that I'm in the playbook 24-7," Ridder said. "I've got it down pretty good, so when they're coming up to me and asking me questions, and just being able to fire it off back at them real quick and them understand that I have a good grasp and knowledge of the offense, that builds trust within the offense and within our relationships with each other."
Another example of Ridder's leadership came in a sideline speech Friday. London, the Falcons' first pick in this year's draft at No. 8, said Ridder called the other rookies together to say mistakes in drills must be corrected. London said Ridder's message was "'we messed up a lot today."
Added London: "We got it together, and that's just the leader he is, so I'm following his footsteps."
Falcons coach Arthur Smith was hesitant to make too much of what he saw in two days, but on Saturday he acknowledged "that's a good start."
"It's one of the characteristics we liked about him," Smith said. "If we got him out here and he was mute, I'd be a little concerned. I guess he passed the day one as advertised in that regard."
The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Ridder led Cincinnati to last season's College Football Playoff. He threw 30 touchdown passes as a senior and set a career record for the Bearcats with 87 as a four-year starter.
Smith has said Marcus Mariota — the former Titans starter acquired from the Las Vegas Raiders after the Falcons traded 14-year starter Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in March — will open training camp this summer atop Atlanta's depth chart. Ridder will compete with Mariota and have an opportunity to prove he can be the future starter.
Ridder was only the second quarterback drafted this year. Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner Kenny Pickett of the University of Pittsburgh, selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 20 overall pick, was the lone first-rounder. Still, Ridder was only the No. 74 overall pick.
That's lower than Ridder expected, and even though he said he understands that quarterbacks as a whole dropped in the draft, it's motivation as he launches his pro career.
"Yes, I am going to take it and use it as a chip," he said, "but it's not something that I think about every single day."