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Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley stepping away from football to focus on mental health

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For the second time in three games, Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley missed a game for "personal reasons," but his absence from the team may be extended.

Ridley was announced as an inactive player before Atlanta's game Sunday against the Carolina Panthers over a personal matter and then later posted a statement on Twitter to clarify his status.

"These past few weeks have been very challenging and as much as I'd like to be on the field competing with my teammates, I need to step away from football at this time and focus on my mental wellbeing," Ridley said Sunday in a statement. "This will help me be the best version of myself now and in the future.

"I want to thank my teammates, the entire Atlanta Falcons organization, our great fans, my friends, and my family for all their support during this time."

It is unclear at this time how long Ridley could be away from the organization.

Ridley did not travel with the Falcons to London for their Week 5 game Oct. 10 against the New York Jets because of what the team called a personal matter. Atlanta had its bye the following week and then Ridley played in a Week 7 game against the Miami Dolphins.

Ridley, 26, is Atlanta's top receiver and has caught 31 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns so far this season. Entering Sunday's game against the Panthers, Ridley's 31 receptions were tied for first among Atlanta pass catchers, and his 52 targets lead the team.

26. Falcons (25): WRs Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage appear ready to return to a 20th-ranked offense that can use the reinforcements.
26. Falcons (25): WRs Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage appear ready to return to a 20th-ranked offense that can use the reinforcements.

Ridley has not mentioned with specificity what the matter is concerning, though he did address it briefly October 21 in a media session with reporters.

"In today's world, me personally, it shouldn't matter, you should mind your business," Ridley said then about the curiosity surrounding the matter . "But in today's world, yeah, I do. To me, if I say it's personal, that means it's personal."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Falcons' Calvin Ridley steps away from football for mental health