Dahl settling into his role at guard

When the Lions selected Joe Dahl in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, Lions general manager Bob Quinn did so knowing he had a bit of a project on his hands.

Dahl played tackle at Washington State. He played the majority of his career in a two-point stance in a pass-happy Cougars offense.

“Never put his hand in the ground,” Quinn said. “We were basically starting from square one teaching him how to run block.”

It took a few years, but give Dahl credit for putting in the work and transforming his body to handle the work inside. As of right now, it looks like he’ll play a key role upfront for the Lions at left guard.

“I think all the credit goes to Joe,” Quinn said. “Because I would say Joe is one of our hardest workers on the team and he’s increased his technique, his playing strength, his physical just weight room strength.

“It took him probably a little longer than I probably would have thought, but I think last year we saw a lot of good signs and (Lions offensive line coaches) Jeff Davidson and Hank Fraley have done a great job with him over the last 16 months at just kind of working on some of those little things he needed to get over the hump.”

Dahl’s had a very good offseason, training camp and preseason. Quinn said Dahl earned the extension the team gave him a couple weeks back.

“I think all he’s got to be able to do is focus on the next snap,” offensive line coach Jeff Davidson said of Dahl. “I think that’s what he has done. That’s what we started getting from him. Again, he’s a guy who’s going to tell you he’s nowhere near where he needs to be, and I‘ve communicated very plainly to him the things he’s got to do to improve. I know full well he’s going to work to get there.”

Dahl changed his regimen in the weight room and put himself on a better diet this offseason. The result has been a weight gain of about five pounds, up from 305 to 310. He has also significantly lowered his body fat count in the process. Dahl estimates he’s added 10 pounds of pure muscle this season.

“I definitely feel the difference,” Dahl said. “I feel the strength difference. I can see myself moving better on film and just being stronger.”

The Lions are obviously hoping that translates to the field on Sundays.

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