Falcons minicamp hectic for former Rebels

Ryan Wolfe and Joe Hawley quickly learned the difference between college football and the NFL when they flew to Atlanta Falcons minicamp last week.

That point was driven home when the former UNLV standouts were each handed a massive playbook.

"The playbook is a lot different than what we were used to," Wolfe said. "Coming into it, the coaches said they were going to throw a lot at you, more than you can handle and we were going to make mistakes. But they wanted us to go full speed."

Hawley said the Falcons put in about 15 new plays during each of the five practices held from Friday through Sunday. UNLV added five to eight plays during a typical training camp practice.

"There’s a lot more in the running game and different pass protections," Hawley said. "It’s completely different than UNLV."

Hawley, a center/guard, was Atlanta’s fourth-round draft choice. He worked with the third-team offense at minicamp, but the Falcons drafted Hawley with the idea of grooming him to learn behind 12-year veteran center Todd McClure.

Because the Falcons did not practice in pads, the tough-nosed Hawley didn’t get a chance to show his blocking skills. But he had enough to do in trying to learn the plays.

"They were really patient with the rookies, which was cool," Hawley said. "They didn’t get on us too much. They expect me to learn and get better."

Wolfe was an undrafted free agent, but the Falcons were high on him early.

Other teams backed off after foot and hamstring injuries prevented Wolfe from running the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine and at UNLV’s pro day, but the Falcons interviewed him in person.

He apparently impressed in minicamp, with the Atlanta Journal Constitution writing Wolfe "showed why he’s the leading receiver in (UNLV) history."

"I’m pretty positive with how everything turned out," he said. "Obviously, I always think I can do better, but it could be worse."

Wolfe said he hasn’t been given an indication of the Falcons’ plans for him; he and Hawley should learn more about their future when they report for organized team activities May 25 to 27. There also will be 11 days of OTAs in June.

Being together at minicamp helped Wolfe and Hawley ease their transition to pro ball, Wolfe said.

"We really didn’t see each other during practice, but after we’d catch up," he said. "It helps when you’re looking for a place to sit to eat lunch and dinner."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at or 702-387-2914.


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