Falcons bracing for possible return of Aaron Rodgers

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons assistant head coach/defense Jerry Gray spent the past three seasons with the Green Bay Packers and has some insight into Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose 21-day return-to-play window was activated Wednesday.

The Falcons (5-6) are set to play the New York Jets (4-7) at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Rodgers, a four-time NFL MVP winner, was trade to the Jets over the offseason after 18 seasons in Green Bay.

“I don’t know what they are doing, but hey, Aaron Rodgers is a good quarterback,” Gray said before practice Wednesday. “We know that. If he plays, he plays. We have to prepare as if (they) are going with Aaron Rodgers if they opened up his window. We just have to go out there. ... The good thing is that I was over in Green Bay with him for three years. I’ve got a little insight.”

Jets coach Robert Saleh told the New York media that Rodgers will be limited at practice and that he has not been cleared for contact.

Rodgers sustained an Achilles injury in the season opener. The Jets tried to play with Zach Wilson at quarterback, but switched to Tim Boyle in their last outing against Miami.

Before activating Rodgers, the Jets had committed to starting Boyle against the Falcons.

Now, with Rodgers’ window open to return, the Falcons have to consider that he might play.

“Aaron Rodgers is a competitor,” Gray said. “If they opened up his window, I know that he’s going to want to play. That’s what he is now. If he can play, he’s going to show up on Sunday. It doesn’t mean that he is, but if they opened up the window. ... He’s a big-time competitor.”

Gray doesn’t believe the Jets would activate Rodgers to serve as a backup to Boyle.

“He’s not going in as a backup,” Gray said. “That’s not happening. He’s a competitor. (He’s) not backing up anyone. That’s his mindset. He’s a starter, and he knows that. He’s a Hall of Famer, a future guy.”

Rodgers also is a four-time All-Pro selection and guided the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV, a 31-25 win over the Steelers in February 2011. The Packers upset the No. 1-seeded Falcons 48-21 in the divisional round of those playoffs on their way to the title.

“When he’s on the football field, he takes control,” Gray said. “That’s the type of guy he is. If he shows up on Sunday, you’re going to get the best Aaron Rodgers.”

Rodgers, who turns 40 on Saturday, was activated exactly 11 weeks after his surgery to repair the torn Achilles tendon.

The Bow Tie Chronicles

About the Author