Detroit Lions' lineman not complaining after losing starting spot in return from injury

Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
·2 min read

In his first game back from a groin injury, Joe Dahl found himself on the bench.

But after starting 13 games for the Detroit Lions last season, Dahl insists he is not worried about whether he stays there.

“I think I’m just going to leave that up to (offensive line coach) Hank (Fraley)," Dahl said Wednesday. "I think a big strength of ours is how deep our offensive line is. I’m just going to keep working and trying to be better every day and he’ll sort that all out."

Detroit Lions guard Joe Dahl is called for a penalty against Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan during the first half at TIAA Bank Field, Oct. 18, 2020.
Detroit Lions guard Joe Dahl is called for a penalty against Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan during the first half at TIAA Bank Field, Oct. 18, 2020.

Dahl won the Lions' starting left guard job last summer and held it for most of the season until a back injury forced him to injured reserve with three games to play.

He opened this season as a starter as well, but after a midweek groin injury kept him out of a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Lions shuffled personnel across their offensive line.

Right guard Jonah Jackson moved to left guard. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who the Lions signed to play right tackle, moved to right guard. And Tyrell Crosby, who started the first two games of the season in Vaitai's absence, stayed at right tackle.

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The Lions stuck with that lineup in last week's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, though injuries to Vaitai and Crosby — both left the game with dehydration — forced another shuffle upfront.

Dahl, who was ticketed for rotational duty before the game, played 34 snaps, and Oday Aboushi and Matt Nelson finished the game at right guard and right tackle, respectively.

Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker, right, celebrates his touchdown with lineman Joe Dahl against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 at Ford Field in Detroit.
Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker, right, celebrates his touchdown with lineman Joe Dahl against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 at Ford Field in Detroit.

"It was nice to be out there, just knock some of the rust off, but I think the plan was just kind of a reintroduction into the whole thing," he said. "Everything on the body held up well, so it was nice to get back out there."

The Lions used a rotation at guard most of last season, giving top backup Kenny Wiggins a series at right and left guard every half, and they could keep Dahl involved in similar fashion going forward.

For now, he's practicing extensively at center, with starter Frank Ragnow battling a groin injury, and said he's taking his cues from Fraley on what his role will be every week.

"We have a lot of guys that are deserving," Dahl said. "We have a really good group altogether."

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Why Detroit Lions' Joe Dahl is not sweating whether he starts