If you ask any Falcons fan what their biggest concern is going into the 2015 season, a fair number of them will tell you that it's the offensive line. While some are concerned about the overall talent level, the bulk of the concern lies in the fact that multiple starters were injured during 2014, with several going on the IR list. One of the first guys to hit IR last year was center Joe Hawley. Per Foxsports, Hawley recently said in an interview with radio station 680 The Fan that his trainers have told him that he won't be back to 100 percent this year.
Hawley did say he felt like he was between 85 and 90 percent currently, and does expect to be back for training camp. He also expressed that he felt confident that he could play on his knee, but would have to be diligent about taking care of it during the season.
Joe's recovery does raise some concern over whether he can immediately return and be a high-level starter in 2015. Given that he is currently on the last year of his contract, there is some question as to whether the Falcons are ready to commit to him for the long-term. However, the depth at center would at least indicate that Hawley is going to get first crack at being our starting center. Peter Konz is also coming off of injury while James Stone will still be in only his second year, though he showed considerable promise as a rookie last year.
When healthy, Hawley appeared to be a good center who looks to be a good fit for the ZBS that Shanahan will be running in Atlanta. He's also a confident leader on the line who has the trust of Ryan in calling blocking assignments. Those are factors that can't be overlooked when considering his future, despite the progress of his recovery.
What do you think about Hawley playing 2015 at 90 to 95% health?