Konz, Hawley Set for Center Battle

Konz, Hawley Set for Center Battle

Jay Adams

Published June 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Training camp is usually when we start thinking about position battles, but when a void is created by a longstanding veteran’s retirement, it seems appropriate to bring up even during offseason training activities.

The center position, long an afterthought because of the steadiness and reliability of Todd McClure for 12 seasons, is now up for grabs for the first time since the Falcons went to the Super Bowl in the late 1990s, and second-year lineman Peter Konz and fourth-year center Joe Hawley are going to be right in the thick of it.

So far, developments are scarce, but head coach Mike Smith said Wednesday that Konz, who spent a good portion of last season filling in at right guard for an injured Garrett Reynolds, will get most of his work at center.

“That was the plan when we drafted him, but we do have Joe Hawley, who has got more than 10 starts in the NFL, at that position,” Smith said, “so it does give us some flexibility.”

Hawley has started 12 games in his career, between both center and guard, and has the experience edge over Konz, but Konz is a bit of a wildcard at the center position since most of his work last year was at guard.

“When he was put in the guard position I thought he handled it really well,” offensive line coach Pat Hill said. “He’s back at center where he played four years in college. That’s a comfort level there. He feels really comfortable there. Playing guard last year only helped him.”

The battle, regardless of how it finishes, could be shaping up to be a close one that comes down to the tail end of the preseason.

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