Q&A: Falcons center Joe Hawley loves the new blocking scheme

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FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons center Joe Hawley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game of last season, is determined to battle back from the injury.

Hawley went down against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 28 with torn right ACL and was placed on injured reserve. He started running a month ago and is hoping to return to full contact drills by training camp.

Hawley spoke to the media on Thursday, here’s what he had to say:

Caption
Falcons center Joe Hawley (61), who earned the starting spot midway through the 2013 season, was out for the rest of the year after sustaining a season-ending torn right ACL in his knee in the loss to the Vikings on Sept. 28. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons center Joe Hawley (61), who earned the starting spot midway through the 2013 season, was out for the rest of the year after sustaining a season-ending torn right ACL in his knee in the loss to the Vikings on Sept. 28. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)
Caption
Falcons center Joe Hawley (61), who earned the starting spot midway through the 2013 season, was out for the rest of the year after sustaining a season-ending torn right ACL in his knee in the loss to the Vikings on Sept. 28. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

ON HIS RECOVERY FROM KNEE SURGERY: "It's been awhile. The injury is going good. The recovery is going good I should say. I started running on the field about a month ago. It's such a slow process, but I'm taking the next step. I'm just going to keep working with the training staff in order to get better for training camp."

ON HOW HE FITS INTO THE ZONE BLOCKING SCHEMES: "I've run some zone blocking schemes before but nothing like this. The way Kyle has it going is that we are attacking … the perimeter. I've never been a part of that. I'm really excited. I think it fits my skill set tremendously. I can't want to get started out there."

WHAT'S UP WITH THE BEARD?: "I haven't cut it (since the injury). I trimmed the sides a little bit. I want to see how wild it can get."

AIMING FOR TRAINING CAMP?: "I don't know the exact date (that) I'll be back. At the end of spring, I'm going to try to work in a little bit. Definitely no full contact probably until training camp."

ON THE NEW COACHES: "I really like them. All of the new coaches are full of energy. In the first meeting they told us that they brought them in because they are guys who know how to teach. That's what it's all about. Teaching the technique, teaching us what we need to do to get better. I'm really excited to work with them. We've just been in the meeting rooms right now. I look forward to getting on the field and seeing how we interact with each other. But so far, so good."

ON HAVING HIS FOURTH OFFENSIVE LINE COACH: "If you get along with people, it works out well. I think a lot of coaches coming into new situations understand that the older guys that have been here, they need to earn their respect because they are the guys running the room. Now, that I've become one of the older guys, I think the relationship there is really important to the new coaches coming in. It's all about treating each other with respect."

ON DIFFERENT TEMPO: "It's hard to judge right now, but definitely the atmosphere is changing. It's high energy, a lot of optimism. It's going to be a lot of competition. It's going to bring out the best in everybody. Everything is going to be fast. We'll get a lot of work in."

ON THE COACHES: "It's hard to tell right now because we've only been in the meeting room for two weeks. Obviously, there is a lot of teaching now because we're installing a new offense and since I've been here, they've kind of overhauled the whole offense. It's completely different. The first few years when a few coaches were rotating in, they kept the base offense together. The terminology and all, so a lot of that has changed. The key thing right now is to kind of learn the new terminology. Learn the way the new coaches want it. Kyle talked to us and said that (we should try) to absorb it right now. It's a slow process and just be able to take the information in and process it the way that you process it as an individual."

ON JUSTIN BLALOCK: "He was one of the leaders of our group. Unfortunately, that just the way the business goes sometimes. I know, I'm personally going to miss him tremendously. He got along with everybody. He's a great player and I wish him the best. I know that he's going to find somewhere else to play."

ON THE LEFT GUARD SPOT: "They really haven't talked about depth chart right now. But a good thing about our group of guys is that we have a lot of versatility. We have a lot of guys who can play a lot of different positions."

ON THE RUNNING GAME: "Kyle Shanahan is going to run the ball and I'm very excited about that. The way he's going to run it, is he's going to attack the perimeter. As an offensive lineman, you have to love that because it's not only going to help (running the ball), …but (it will help) passing the ball as well. It will slow down the pass rushers. The past couple of years I feel like pass rushers have been teeing off and just worrying about the pass because they didn't have to worry about the run. We're going to set up the run and it's really going to help us all out as a group."

ON THE LINE OVERALL FITTING THE ZONE SCHEME: "I think our whole group is very athletic. That's what he wants. He wants guys that are in shape that can run because we are running from sideline to sideline constantly. We're not just dropping back 50 times. We're going to run a lot of play action and play fast. I think all of our guys are athletes and I think that's what they want."

ON THE PAST TWO SEASONS: "As a team you always want to do the best you can. That was definitely disappointing for us, the past two years. For me personally, I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. I have a lot to prove. I was handed the starting spot last year and didn't get the opportunity to show what I had. I know there are still a lot of question marks for some people and I want to prove that I belong in there."

ON THE SCHEME: "The way he's going to game plan it and schematically with different backs and different tight ends. We can run the ball out of any formation or any personnel grouping. I don't think it matters. Obviously, if you bring more tight ends in, they are going to bring more people into the box. It's all game-plan stuff. But the fact that he's focused on running the ball is a key point."

HOW MUCH CUT-BLOCKING, NASTINESS: "I don't think cut blocking determines how nasty we are. I think it's more about finish and finishing the plays. Especially the ways they are going to have us running. We're running full speed until the play is over. Cut blocking is a lot more difficult than it used to be. You can't roll on the guys anymore. The rules have changed. They are trying to protect guys and we understand that. I don't think cut blocking is going to determine how tough or how nasty an offensive line is. It's more about your finish."

ON QUINN: "It's his positive attitude and his energy. He's just so excited to work with us. He's just so excited for the competition (to start) and (he's) looking forward to the (season). It's a fresh start. New leadership. That's what this team needed and I'm excited to work with him."

POINT OF ATTACK (COACHING) TAPES: "They've been working hard since they got here. They have actually (made) cut-up tapes of each individual player. They have them in the meeting room. I have (my tape.) (Offensive line) coach (Chris) Morgan has specific things that he wants each guy to work on. For me, the outside zone stuff, as a center (I'll be) doing a lot of man reach blocks. He said just work on that in the offseason and then (with) the pass blocking, just get my knees down and hips down when I'm blocking a guy one-on-one."

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO GET A TAPE LIKE THAT: "It's huge. It's a long way to the season, but it's a good start. It kind of shows us what he expects of us. It starts that relationship, that coach-player relationship and start growing it."

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