- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter
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The center and former fourth-round draft pick from UNLV is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11. Hawley drew high praise from head coach Mike Smith when he supplanted Peter Konz as the starting center and made an immediate impact in terms of keeping the pocket clean for quarterback Matt Ryan.
Did the undersized Hawley (6-foot-3, 302 pounds) show enough to be the team’s center of the future?
"I hope that they give me that opportunity,’’ Hawley said. "I think I’ve proven that I belong as a starting center in this league. Hopefully they’ll give me a chance to come back and show that I’m that guy.’’
Here’s Hawley's self-evaluation of the 2013 season:
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
2013 games played/starts: 16/7
Overview: Hawley started the season as the extra lineman in the heavy package. He surpassed Konz as the starting center in Week 11 at Tampa Bay and then really opened eyes with a strong showing against the Saints in Week 12 while facing a tough defensive front. More than anything, Hawley brought a little bit of an edge to a line that needed to show more toughness.
Hawley's self-evaluation: "Personally, I’m happy with the way I stepped in and played. Obviously, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted as a team. I competed in training camp for the starting job. I didn’t get it. I kept working every week like I was the starter. I wanted to show them that I was ready when the opportunity was presented. So when I got the opportunity, nothing really changed. I just went out there and did what I knew I could. I felt like I played well. Obviously, I need to work on getting everybody on the same page together and getting the line to work better together. But, I thought I played well.’’
Tuesday: Lamar Holmes
Joe Hawley doesn’t want his last memory in an Atlanta Falcons uniform to be that forgettable bad snap against Carolina in the season’s final game.