Matt Ryan has plenty of respect for Packers

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Matt Ryan has plenty of respect for the Green Bay Packers.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback appreciates the mystique behind historic Lambeau Field, the place Ryan and his teammates will visit this Sunday.

"It's certainly one of the places with the most history in the NFL," said Ryan, who is 1-0 at Green Bay. "And that's always fun. You grow up hearing about the 'Frozen Tundra,' all that type of stuff. And you watch black and white tapes of games up there. To be a part of that, to go up there and play, is an honor."

Ryan admires the talents of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose status for Sunday remains a question mark coming off a broken collarbone.

"I know him personally and he's a really good guy and a friend," Ryan said of Rodgers. "So when you have a guy like that you know well, you want them to be out there playing. First and foremost, he's got to take care of himself. And we'll see what happens. It's obviously still up in the air. As a friend, I'd like to see him out there."

Ryan also respects the Packers defense, led by outside linebacker Clay Matthews.

"I think Clay Matthews is one of the premier rushers in the NFL," Ryan said. "He does it with different moves that he has. But he does it with unbelievable effort, too. His plays to the whistle every snap. And I think he's probably as healthy now as he's been all year. When you have a guy that is as talented and relentless as he is and is probably feeling the best that he has, that makes it tough to go against."

And Ryan respects 6-foot-2, 337-pound Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji, his former college teammate at Boston College.

"He is as physical and athletic for a big guy as anybody in this league, in my opinion," Ryan said. "I know it from having played basketball with him at B.C. He's incredibly athletic for as big as he is. He was a great teammate during my time at Boston College. So, it's great to see him doing well."

Ryan would just prefer Raji not do as well come Sunday.