LIONS INSIDER

Versatile Joe Dahl getting a look at left tackle

Posted Jun 13, 2017

Offensive lineman Joe Dahl has played many roles for the Lions, and now he's getting a look at left tackle in Taylor Decker's absence.

Joe Dahl is the Detroit Lions’ version of a Swiss Army Knife.

In the span of just over a year, the second-year offensive lineman out of Washington State has practiced or played every position along Detroit’s line, including center.

Dahl said after Tuesday’s minicamp practice that he bounced around to a new position just about every other day in practice last season.

So, which of those positions is he most comfortable in?

“Whatever I played last, honestly,” he said. “I repped more tackle today, so probably tackle right now.”

Ever since starting left tackle Taylor Decker injured his right shoulder a couple weeks ago, Dahl has received most of the first-team reps at left tackle in the open practices to the media.

He hasn’t lost his Swiss Army reputation just yet, however. Dahl also gets reps at guard. He shifts over to left guard when Graham Glasgow moves to center with the second team.  

"Do anything they ask of me,” Dahl said of being able to play multiple positions up front. “It definitely helps that I can play multiple positions.

“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the group. It’s been a little bit different at tackle, but I just have to adjust.”

Dahl was settling in at guard most of the time this spring before the Decker injury. He’s had to adjust on the fly. Dahl is taking in as much advice as he can from offensive line coach Ron Prince, veteran tackle Rick Wagner and even Decker, who was watching practice Tuesday with his right arm in a sling.

Dahl has experience playing left tackle his last two years at Washington State to fall back on, but the only problem is that their pass-happy scheme wasn’t nearly as demanding from a technical standpoint as Detroit’s.

Dahl had to be taught some technique stuff for the first time as a rookie last season.

“We barely ran any schemes,” Dahl said of Washington State’s offense. “We were really simple scheme-wise and then we never played in a three-point stance. We hardly ever run blocked. It was just learning all new schemes and all new techniques. It was entirely different.”

To now be at a point where the Lions feel comfortable enough to give him a serious look at left tackle until Decker returns, speaks volumes to how far Dahl’s progressed in a year’s time.

“He’s coming along,” head coach Jim Caldwell said of Dahl. “He’s now getting a chance to play multiple positions and Joe’s one of those guys that’s smart. He knows really, every position on the line. He’s played a little center, played a little guard, obviously. He can play a little tackle for us. I think it’ll benefit him.”

The biggest adjustment for Dahl so far has been the type of player he’s asked to block on the outside vs. inside. Ziggy Ansah presents a whole new type of challenges than someone like A'Shawn Robinson does.

“Different type of body going from a defensive tackle to a defensive end,” Dahl said. “I’d say that’s the biggest difference.”

He said Tuesday that he’d feel comfortable if he was asked to play tackle in a game tomorrow. The Lions don’t play a game that counts for another 89 days, which means Dahl has another three months to continue to work on his craft and hone his game at tackle, just in case he’s asked to play a big role early in the season.