Fallon graduates return to gridiron | NevadaAppeal.com

Fallon graduates return to gridiron

THOMAS RANSON
Lahontan Valley News

The NFL is back in business and so are a couple of Fallon grads.

Harvey Dahl (1998) and Josh Mauga (2005) will hit the gridiron this week after a lockout jeopardized the 2011 season. The owners and NFLPA agreed to end the lockout on Monday, with only the Hall of Fame game being canceled.

This week should be eventful for Dahl, one of the many free agents on the market. Dahl has spent three-plus seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, helping them to two playoff berths, including a home loss last season to eventual Super Bowl champs Green Bay.

Speculation has varied with some predicting that Dahl, a 2004 Nevada grad, will stay in Atlanta while others speculate Atlanta will be able to retain only offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, leaving Dahl and left guard Justin Blalock searching for new teams.

According to FOX Sports’ Brian Billick, he lists Dahl as No. 8 in his top 10 available offensive lineman, including guards and tackles. Clabo was listed as the top available free agent while Dahl is the fourth-best guard available. Even with the rumors that Atlanta might not re-sign Dahl, Billick thinks he’ll stay with the Falcons.

“Dahl is one of the most physical run blockers in the game, and he plays with that nasty style that offensive line coaches love to have in the trenches,” Billick wrote. “The Falcons will resign Harvey Dahl for the very same reasons they retain Tyson Clabo.”

According the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Falcons want to keep the offensive line intact. They have been vital to the running game with Michael Turner carrying the ball and making quarterback Matt Ryan’s job easier when he started in his first season three years ago.

“The Falcons will focus on re-signing their own players with a goal of keeping the offensive line together,” By D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote. “Clabo, Dahl and Blalock have been mainstays on the offensive line that has protected quarterback Matt Ryan and helped Michael Turner put up two 1,300-yard rushing seasons.”

Then there are those who think Dahl will move from Atlanta after this week. Tennessee, Arizona, Washington and Chicago have been brought up as potential landing spots for the Fallon grad.

James Dudko, a Redskins featured columnist, wrote on bleacherreport.com that Dahl would be a wise investment for the Redskins, citing his run-blocking skills that could help a weak offensive line under head coach Mike Shanahan.

“His smash mouth style may not be the most natural fit for Mike Shanahan’s zone techniques,” Dudko wrote. “But Dahl is a punishing run blocker who uses strength and awareness to create running lanes for rushers to exploit. Dahl is a player with an intense aggressive streak that would help instill a hard-nosed attitude that has been sorely lacking in recent seasons.”

ESPN Chicago previewed the Bears’ potential targets, listing Dahl because of his nastiness and Atlanta’s difficulty to retain all three offensive linemen.

“Dahl flashes the type of nastiness coveted by Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice,” Michael Wright wrote. “Because the Falcons have to find a way to re-sign three offensive linemen, Dahl – who represents an upgrade – might be in play for the Bears.”

Free agents will be allowed to sign on Friday.

Unlike Dahl, Mauga knows his fate this preseason. Signed to a three-year deal last season by the Jets, Mauga’s back and will compete for a starting position on defense after playing the last half of the season on special teams. The 2009 Nevada grad appeared on defense several times against the Patriots, Bills and Steelers and hopes that momentum will help in the next two weeks. The Jets advanced to the AFC Championship, losing to the Steelers on the road.

Mauga will also get a chance to suit home close to home as the Jets visit Oakland at the end of September.

Preseason games begin in two weeks with the regular season kicking off in September.