Offensive lineman Joe Dahl played both guard spots and some center throughout the course of last week’s three-day minicamp.
Last year, he played guard, fullback, and even saw some time on the edge in a heavy tight end role. That kind of versatility has served Dahl well and earned him a role on the roster over the last couple seasons.
As a result of his added duties, Dahl transformed his body this offseason to better handle the different roles the team’s asked him to play. He changed his regimen in the weight room and put himself on a better diet. The result has been a weight gain of about five pounds, up from 305 to 310 pounds, but he has significantly lowered his body fat count in the process. Dahl estimates he’s added 10 pounds of pure muscle this offseason.
“Just a better composition of my body,” he said. “I think a huge part of it just has to do with our strength staff, and then I just come in and try to work as hard as I can.
“I definitely feel the difference. I feel the strength difference. I can see myself moving better on film and just being stronger.”
It’s something head coach Matt Patricia has noticed from Dahl this spring, too.
“I think he’s really transformed his body over the last year,” Patricia said. “He just looks bigger and stronger. He moves better.”
Dahl is a unique athlete in that he can handle himself in space pretty well for a 300-plus pound man. He moves well and has no problem getting to the second level as a fullback. He’s played some fullback this spring, and while there’s no pads during OTAs and minicamp, it’s definitely noticeable how much better he moves in the role.
As the Lions continue to search for the best combination of five players to start the year upfront along the offensive line, Dahl got first-team reps in minicamp last week at left guard.
“He’s going to have an opportunity just like everybody else out there,” Patricia said. “But he can be versatile in the inside positions. Again, if you can be flexible, or you have multiple roles on the team, you increase your value to the team. That’s something that he understands and he’s trying to do.”
View the best photos from 2019 Detroit Lions minicamp.
Since being drafted in the fifth round out of Washington State three years ago, Dahl has played a primarily backup role upfront. He’s played in 22 games the last three years with just four starts. He did a really nice job as a fullback and extra blocker on the edge late last season, and as Patricia said, the more a player can do, the more valuable he is to the roster. Dahl's ability to play those roles gives Detroit some flexibility not only on their 53-man roster, but on the 46-man gameday roster as well.
“From an offensive line perspective, a lot of those guys aren’t going to really roll out there on special teams, so their ability to be versatile within the scheme of the offense – whether it’s different offensive line positions, or not different than if it’s last year, a fullback position, or a heavy tight end position,” Patricia said. “You just give yourself more value as you go forward.”