The competition at offensive line for the Atlanta Falcons has been one of the most spirited throughout training camp and the preseason with just about every spot up for grabs. Todd McClure is expected to once again nail down the starting job for the Falcons at center but Joe Hawley is getting opportunities to show that coaching staff that he is capable of handling the position on a regular basis.
Hawley has been rotating snaps with McClure more frequently with the first team. At this point McClure doesn't have much left to prove to anyone and head coach Mike Smith indicated that Hawley is seeing increased action in an effort to help keep McClure healthy.
"Todd is one of those guys that we have on a management program," Smith said. "His snaps are going to be monitored. He and Tony (Gonzalez) are the guys who have the most restrictions in terms of the number of snaps they are going to get, not only in practice but in preseason games. Those guys have been around a long time. That is really why you are seeing Joe and Mud Duck (McClure), basically splitting those reps. We have a certain amount of snaps we want Todd to get each and every day."
Hawley started at center to begin last season when McClure was out with an injury. He later took over as the full time right guard. That type of versatility is something the Falcons have been looking for this preseason and he should provide a nice insurance policy should McClure get nicked up at some point this season.