FLOWERY BRANCH, GA —Harvey Dahl is a man of history.
The Falcons' right guard majored in it while at Nevada, and he enjoys everything from ancient Rome to the Revolutionary War.
If there's one thing Dahl knows, it's that history has a tendency to repeat itself. That's why fans should expect much of the same nasty, brutish behavior out of Dahl once the preseason gets started against Kansas City on Friday night at the Georgia Dome.
"That's the way my philosophy is; how I have to play football," Dahl said Wednesday. "It's a physical sport. It's a violent sport and I think that's just how — especially offensive line and D-line up front — that's just how it is."
The Falcons haven't even gotten to the first preseason game yet and Dahl has been in his share of mix-ups and melees, both with his teammates and with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who spent two days at Falcons camp this week for combined practices.
Dahl said it's all part of his approach to the game. In practice, he tries to tone things down, but it doesn't always work that way.
"The technique is a little different, especially when you're going up against your own teammates," Dahl said. "You want to take care of them and make sure no one gets hurt. Game day Sunday, it's a whole different story. It's a different level."
Those around him have taken note. His attitude toward the game has become infectious along the other starting four.
Even tight end Tony Gonzalez, a veteran who has seen his share of offensive linemen play, has helped develop a bit of a nasty side, thanks to watching the way Dahl approaches the game.
"Everybody has their niche of what works for them, and I think he found his niche and it works for him. He's a good, solid player," Gonzalez said. "Those type of guys you like playing with because he brings a little bit of toughness to the team. You know that there's never any backing down or loafing. It's full tilt every time he's on that field. You appreciate that."
For the first time in his career in Atlanta, however, Dahl's look doesn't match his attitude. Dahl previously sported long hair and a beard. The four-year veteran is now clean cut, with the exception of some visible training camp stubble.
Dahl said there was no rhyme or reason to the change other than it allowing him to be a little cooler under his helmet, but a change in look doesn't represent a change in attitude.
"I think he has a great attitude every time he comes out on the field and I think it's infectious," head coach Mike Smith said. "I think it spills over to the other guys, not only on the offensive line, but it also permeates throughout the team. You have to have those guys that come and set the tempo for your team, and Harvey is definitely one of those guys."