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Rookie offensive linemen Johnson and Hawley


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Notebook: PM Practice – August 10

Daniel Cox

http://twitter.com/falconsdcox20 hrs ago

August 10th, 2010

FLOWERY BRANCH, GA — The question posed to rookie offensive guard Mike Johnson as he stood in the heat of Tuesday afternoon after wrapping up two days of practice with the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars was: Is it a requirement for Falcons offensive linemen to have a beard?

Johnson’s beard is no match for third-year left tackle Sam Baker or even fellow rookie Joe Hawley’s, but is well beyond five o’clock shadow length. He only responded with a laugh and then provided the perfect football answer.

“Honestly, I just haven’t even thought about shaving,” Johnson said. “I’ll probably trim it up sometime in the near future. It’s just not something that’s on my mind right now.”

What is on his mind, and the mind of Hawley, is earning a spot on a veteran-laden offensive line, a unit that returns all its starters for the third consecutive season. The two rookies are trying to gain every advantage they can, even if it means mixing it up with other players, especially the Jaguars.

Hawley has been involved in more than one skirmish in the past two days from his center position, but chalks it up to being nothing more the way things are in the world of professional football.

“It’s the competition, I think,” he said. “When two guys are trying to win a job, it gets heated, words get exchanged. Coaches tell us not to back down. It’s all in good fun though. No one holds grudges. It’s nothing personal.”

The fourth-round pick listens to what his coaches tell him, as does Johnson, and right now they are preaching leverage.

In the trenches, every one-on-one battle is won with leverage. As the rookies put it: “The low man wins.”

They’ve been working to hone their technique to ensure they’re underneath the competition, with their hands on the inside of their opponent’s chest.

“(If that happens), you’re going to have the leverage, you’re going to be able to drive your feet,” Johnson said. “If your hands are outside and theirs are in your chest, it’s going to go the other way. It’s just one of those things that takes a lot of effort and technique and you have to work to perfect that.”

Johnson and Hawley, consecutive draft selections for Atlanta, attribute much of their lessons about leverage and the ways of the professional offensive lineman to the veterans on the squad. With so much experience in the huddle and the meeting room, they’ve been able to take years worth of lessons to apply to their first seasons in the NFL.

“Those guys have a lot of experience,” Hawley said. “Me and Mike have really learned a lot from them about practice habits, how to take care of our bodies, learning the playbook and just becoming a pro. Without them we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now so it really helps out a lot.”


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I really like both these picks. I was hoping we would draft Hawley , I had him pegged as a very good mid round OL, and had him in my top 20 as Players I wanted. I think he will be a Starting Center in time.

Hard to go wrong drafting interior offensive linemen in the midrounds, as this is generally where the best value can be had for interior OL. These midround selections are usually quality interior OL, who should be able to start after a couple of years of experience. I think that both Hawley and Johnson fit that bill, players who can provide quality depth right now and should be able to start in the near future. BTW Hawley was one of my mock Falcons selections in your draft game this year.

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