Joe Dahl didn’t need to give a lengthy dissertation on how the Detroit Lions’ offensive linemen felt about starting the preseason by giving up nine sacks in last week’s loss to the New England Patriots.
The nine sacks allowed spoke for itself.
It wasn’t necessary to add much, and Dahl was succinct when asked about it.
“It sucks,” Dahl said. “Obviously, that’s one of our goals – to not get him touched at all. Obviously, we weren’t happy with that.”
As the opening game showed, there is still work to be done as the Lions rebuild the interior of the offensive line.
The wheel of opportunity continues to spin at the guard position, and the needle appears to have landed on Dahl’s number.
Dahl has been taking extended reps at left guard in practice since the New England game as the Lions prepare for joint practices in Houston before Saturday night’s road game against the Texans.
Dahl obviously would like to win a starting job, but he’s keeping his focus on matters directly at hand and not looking ahead.
“Everybody’s in competition,” Dahl said. “We know that. It’s training camp in the NFL. We’ve all been helping each other, too, which is huge. We’re all about the team first. It’s been great competition so far.
“The main thing is just taking it step by step. We come in here every day and focus on one step at a time, however it works out, and however it will be.”
Dahl worked in the offseason to add strength and bulk. Getting stronger was more important than adding pounds.
“I’m about 310,” he said. “I definitely feel a difference. I feel like a stronger player from years past."
Dahl has shown some versatility in his three seasons with the Lions since being drafted in the fifth round in 2016, but he has yet to get extended playing time on the offensive line.
He has played 251 offensive snaps in the three seasons combined, and only 48 of them last season -- with many of them coming at fullback. He started one game – at fullback – against the Vikings in Week 16.
Despite his limited playing time – 23 games and four career starts – Lions management sees some value in Dahl. He acknowledged that he recently signed a contract extension.
There’s no way to excuse the nine sacks allowed. It was a bad performance overall by the Lions. For the offense, it started bad and stayed that way. Starting quarterback Tom Savage was sacked on the fourth snap of the game. On the next snap, Wiggins got a holding penalty that wiped out a good run by rookie Ty Johnson.
There were some communication issues up front. And David Fales, who took over at quarterback after Savage went out with a concussion, clearly had trouble getting rid of the ball. He was sacked six times on 20 drop backs.
“There’s definitely a few plays in there – if not more than a handful – that were just communication based,” Dahl said. “Those are easy fixes. We have to make sure that we’re all locked in and we’re communicating.
“It’s definitely a familiarity thing – being around different people, having a different guy next to you. It’s no excuse. You have to communicate, regardless of who’s playing next to you.”