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Joe Hawley Won't Let Knee Soreness Deter His Season Plans


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Joe Hawley won't let knee soreness deter his season plans

Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons center Joe Hawley knew before training camp started his surgically repaired right knee wouldn't be back to full strength anytime soon.

With camp now complete, Hawley stopped short of saying his knee feels closer to normal. He went through a full day of work Wednesday during a pad-less practice.

"Yes, it's sore," Hawley said. "It hurts every day coming out. It's structurally stable; strong. It's more of the fatigue I get in the atrophy I had in trying to build the muscle up. So, just trying to get in the weight room and continue to strengthen it. I'm doing like leg press and different rehab stuff. Just keeping the muscle strong is the important thing.

"The knee is stable itself. It's just kind of nicks and pains here and there. It's something I'm going to have to deal with the whole year, probably."

Hawley tore the anterior crucial ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in the knee last September at Minnesota. He had surgery Oct. 9 of last year, then was limited during the offseason. Hawley didn't participate much in 11-on-11 drills at the start of camp. Then he gradually saw his workload increase, although the coaches also increased center reps for Mike Person as added insurance.

James Stone, who started at center in place of Hawley last season, emerged as the best option at left guard over Person.

Now, the Falcons head into their second preseason game against the New York Jets Friday with a first-team line of tackle Jake Matthews, left guard Stone, right guard Chris Chester, and right tackle Ryan Schraeder, and Hawley. This appears to be the group set to start the Sept. 14 season opener against Philadelphia. The only question mark might be if Hawley's knee can hold up through an entire game.

"Oh yeah it can," Hawley said. "Like I said, it's not structural. It's just a fatigue thing. It's staying on top of it; making sure it doesn't get too swollen. Has it gotten swollen? Not really."

Falcons coach Dan Quinn was asked if Hawley's knee is something the coaches will monitor.

"Not necessarily monitor for us," Quinn said. "We have monitored all of the guys. But with Joe, the strength is there. For him to continue to battle, I think that's part of the rehab process of him getting back. We're anxious for him to keep developing and keeping pushing with that confident like, 'OK, I've got it.' "

Hawley, even if not 100 percent, will be a key figure for the Falcons as they adjust to an outside zone blocking scheme. Former Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice often praised Hawley for having the athleticism to get out and pull from the center spot. Such good movement and lateral quickness are essential in the new scheme as the Falcons look to establish the running game.

A few quick-hit items from the 15th and final practice of training camp on Wednesday:

Quinn singled out second-year outside linebacker Tyler Starr, who made some nice tackles in last Friday's preseason opener against Tennessee and also had an interception near the end of Wednesday's practice. "We're training him at Sam and also some at Leo," Quinn said. "We're trying to look at him as the nickel pass-rusher. We like the length. We like the strength that he's playing with. So, yeah, he's in there battling for it." Starr entered this season coming off major shoulder surgery.

Robert Alford got a little more work at nickel back with Phillip Adams and Jalen Collins playing outside at cornerback. Quinn loves the versatility Alford has and still likes Alford outside opposite Desmond Trufant. (Trufant remained sidelined with a shoulder strain.)

Although they've had very strong camps, both wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and tight end Levine Toilolo had noticeable drops Wednesday.

The music playlist included Run DMC ("It's Tricky") and Fetty Wap ("Trap Queen").

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This is a nice look into the reality of NFL football. Though people "come back" from these sorts of injuries, I think we lose sight of the practical implications of them. Muscle atrophy, weakness, residual pain ,etc.

etc....like......excuses for sucking when you never were very good in the first place...

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etc....like......excuses for sucking when you never were very good in the first place...

Why do say ignorant **** like this?

I didnt even ******* say anything about Hawley's ability on the field. I said very plainly that we don't see the difficulties that NFL players experience coming back from major injuries. So I guess thanks for proving my point....from your computer chair.

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Why do say ignorant **** like this?

I didnt even ******* say anything about Hawley's ability on the field. I said very plainly that we don't see the difficulties that NFL players experience coming back from major injuries. So I guess thanks for proving my point....from your computer chair.

Hawley sucks. he has always sucked and has always been overrated by you and others on TATF - worrying that he is not 100% and dealing w/ injury is not the same as worrying about Jake Matthews not being 100% - because Jake is actually good.

I would just shelf Hawley's whining excuse-making azz until he's 100% - then he can fight for the job - and if he is good enough, fine. If not, then that is fine as well.

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I don't like the tone of this article. Doesn't sound super confident!

Hawley has been laying the foundation all off-season for his expected poor performance. About a month ago he was touting his injury on 92.9 the game and how he would not be more than about 80% healthy all year. Winners don't make excuses in the media, but Hawley does.

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Hawley has been laying the foundation all off-season for his expected poor performance. About a month ago he was touting his injury on 92.9 the game and how he would not be more than about 80% healthy all year. Winners don't make excuses in the media, but Hawley does.

Dude, you are so off base on this one it's unreal. I've heard the interviews and it's nothing like what you are portraying it as. He was asked a direct question and answered it--the end. You don't like the guy, that's great but don't let that cloud your objectivity on it. Is Hawley a pro-bowler? Not at this point. Is he solid when healthy? Absolutely he is...

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As much as people want to think otherwise, Hawley is still the best Center on our team, and clearly the coaches thus far agree, whether he's 90 or 100%.

Personally I like Hawley's frankness on this subject so far. He's repeatedly been honest in saying the injury isn't just going away, but then follows it up with 'I'll win the job anyway'. I like the confidence.

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Hawley has been laying the foundation all off-season for his expected poor performance. About a month ago he was touting his injury on 92.9 the game and how he would not be more than about 80% healthy all year. Winners don't make excuses in the media, but Hawley does.

It's quite amazing how much sense that you actually think that you're making.

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Dude, you are so off base on this one it's unreal. I've heard the interviews and it's nothing like what you are portraying it as. He was asked a direct question and answered it--the end. You don't like the guy, that's great but don't let that cloud your objectivity on it. Is Hawley a pro-bowler? Not at this point. Is he solid when healthy? Absolutely he is...

He's not solid but I am not going to waste a half a day arguing about it.

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As much as people want to think otherwise, Hawley is still the best Center on our team, and clearly the coaches thus far agree, whether he's 90 or 100%.

Personally I like Hawley's frankness on this subject so far. He's repeatedly been honest in saying the injury isn't just going away, but then follows it up with 'I'll win the job anyway'. I like the confidence.

I don't give a daym about confidence if its false bravado - get the job done on the field or shut-the-f-up.

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