1. Injury Update: Falcons center Joe Hawley was all smiles at the podium Thursday, making continual progress in his recovery from a season-ending knee injury suffered in 2014 against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. Despite being uncertain of his official return-to-action date, Hawley said he plans to get some on-field work in this spring, while no full-contact drills will take place any earlier than training camp in July.
"My recovery is going good," Hawley said. "I started running on the field about a month ago. It's such a slow process, but I'm taking the next step, and I'm going to keep working with the training staff to get better for training camp."
2. Run Falcons, Run: As soon as Hawley is cleared for contact drills, he'll quickly embrace the zone-blocking scheme of Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is designing things that could take the club's running game to a whole new level in 2015.
"The way Kyle has it going, it's attacking a lot of the wide zones, attacking the perimeter," Hawley said. "I've never been a part of that, and I'm real excited, because I think it fits my skill set tremendously. As an offensive lineman, you have to love running the ball, because it will help the passing game, as well."
3. The Quinn Regime: Like many of their teammates, Hawley and Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow, who also addressed the media Thursday, were instantly intrigued by Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and the rest of his staff. Both players praised the new culture that has already been created as early as Quinn's first day.
"His positive attitude and his energy (stood out)," Hawley said of his first meeting with Quinn. "He's so excited to work with us, and he's so excited for the competition in the next year. It's a fresh start, new leadership, and I think that's what this team needed. I'm looking forward to working with him."
4. Competitive Linebackers: As Worrilow spoke Thursday, he highlighted the increased competitiveness brought to the club by Quinn and company. He ought to know as Worrilow is in a packed meeting room, filled with linebackers, including new teammates, Brooks Reed, Justin Durant and O'Brien Schofield, each fitting right in with the group.
"Everything has gelled smoothly so far as they're great guys," Worrilow said. "We're all helping each other. We all watch film together; it's a good group for that, and we're all going to push each other this year."
5. A New Defensive Focus: Among the many questions Worrilow was asked Thursday, one focused strictly on the new defensive scheme the Falcons will run in 2015. In just two weeks with Quinn's staff, the Falcons' third-year linebacker raved not about the scheme but the primary focus points the coaches are using to transcend the defense for the upcoming season.
"Compared to last year, there's less volume in terms of everything that we have in," Worrilow said. "You can tell that it's geared more towards effort and the fundamentals of the game. Tackling has been a huge emphasis. Attacking the ball has been a huge emphasis, as well, so, less scheme, as it is more individual effort and fundamentals on the field."