Joe Hawley of Atlanta Falcons suspended four games by NFL

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Joe Hawley received a four-game suspension from the NFL on Monday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

Hawley, a third-year pro, backs up the Falcons' longtime center, Todd McClure. The suspension begins immediately, meaning Hawley can't return to the Falcons' roster until Dec. 17 -- one day after the NFC-leading team faces the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

His agent, Kevin Omell, released a statement saying Hawley took Adderall in September without filing the proper paperwork with the league for a medical exemption. The stimulant is perhaps best known as a treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

"He is sincerely sorry to his teammates, coaches and Falcons fans for the consequences of this oversight," Omell said in the statement. "Joe will work diligently every day of this suspension to stay in top football shape and be ready to help the team continue the success they've achieved thus far this season."

Hawley will not appeal the suspension.

"He has chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation," his agent said.

The Falcons likely will use rookie Peter Konz as McClure's backup while Hawley is out. Konz also is the starter at right guard.

The Falcons (9-1) face the NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-4) on Sunday. Hawley also will miss games against the division foe New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press