Allen Park – Most NFL players who don't have a regular role will do anything to get on the field. Even if that means an unorthodox position switch to help the team deal with an injury.
After playing four offensive snaps the first 10 games of the season, Detroit Lions offensive lineman Joe Dahl probably would have offered to handle punt returns if it meant more steady playing time. Things didn’t get quite that dramatic, but while fullback Nick Bellore has dealt with an ankle injury the past few weeks, Dahl has been part of Detroit’s solution at that spot, splitting time with tight end Luke Willson in the backfield.
There’s just something unique about seeing a 300-pounder as a lead blocker.
“Joe, he’s a real athletic guy for a big guy and a lot of the guards nowadays are pretty athletic from that standpoint,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “He’s really a guard, center, kind of one of those interior guys that can move around. … We trust him to go out there and do whatever it is you’re asking him to do at a high level and he’s going to go give you everything he has.”
This is new territory for Dahl, who has also lined up at tight end for several snaps. He’s spent much of his football playing life focusing on one spot during a given season.
“I think you take for granted, as an offensive lineman, you’re going to be in the same spot every play,” Dahl said. “It’s a little different having to listen to the whole call and see the big picture.”
The way the Lions use their guards, often asking them to get in space, whether pulling or shooting into the second level, lends to a natural transition to the movements of fullback. Dahl said he also saw carryover from his time working as a wedge blocker on kickoffs earlier in his career.
All that’s left now is for the Lions to give Dahl the ball. After the Lions threw a touchdown pass to left tackle Taylor Decker earlier this season, there's no reason to rule it out.
Not that Dahl is clamoring for that opportunity.
“I don’t really know if I have any interest in that, at this point,” he said, laughing. “But if they dial that up, then I’ll do it. It’s been a long time since I’ve handled the ball, so I don’t know if I need that.”