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Unheralded players give contenders much-needed boost


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After the Atlanta Falcons' comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks ago, guard Harvey Dahl, the man I proclaimed the "dirtiest player" in the NFL, was leaning back on a stool being interviewed by a reporter.

Next to him sat Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo, the man who also happens to play next to him, forming one of the better and tougher right sides in the NFL.

I chatted up Clabo and told him that I was the one who gave Dahl the title he lives up to on a weekly basis, one he secretly loves having.

"False stuff there," Clabo said.

See, Clabo wants the title for himself.

That's who he and Dahl are. They're also very good, part of an offensive line that is a big reason why the Falcons are 11-2. If you want a fight, line up opposite that right side. You will get one.

Clabo this season is more than a mauler. He also happens to be one of the NFL's best right tackles. He has had some good games against some good players. He held Green Bay's Clay Matthews to three tackles, one pressure and no sacks.

It couldn't come at a better time for Clabo. He is in the final year of his contract paying $2.5 million this season. A self-made player who came into the league as an undrafted free agent and was let go by two teams before joining the Falcons, Clabo is set to hit it big.

Before then, he will play a key part in the Falcons' push for a Super Bowl. He is just one of the many unsung heroes on the good teams as we head down the stretch.

Here's a look at some others:

Greg Jones, FB, Jaguars

Maurice Jones-Drew is second in the NFL in rushing. He has racked up most of that yardage running behind Jones, who is a brutish blocker.

"I feel protected," Jones-Drew said. "He just doesn't go man-for-man; he moves the guy out of the way and clears a lane. He can catch. He blocks defensive ends, linebackers [and] safeties. He is the total package. He is nimble enough to block safeties [and] strong enough to block defensive linemen."

Jones was a star runner at Florida State. But his chiseled body and three knee surgeries have combined to make him the perfect fullback. He is a force in the run game.

The Jaguars once considered using him as a feature back, a role he has filled at times, but there is little doubt that his strong suit is leading Jones-Drew through the hole. If you want to see collisions, watch Jones on a linebacker. It hurts just watching it.

"There are a lot of people that say there are so many different guys that are better fullbacks," Jones-Drew said. "There is not one that has been a star tailback moved to fullback. I think that shows a lot. You are so used to getting the ball and being that guy to where you come in and take your role to a whole different level. He sees the way I see it."

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Nice to see Tyson getting some love. He needs to be re-signed! ^_^

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Yeah, I think if we have to replace Dahl or Blalock, so be it. We simply can't afford to let Clabo go. Personally, I think if the team has such a high regard for line play as a key to winning, then we should keep this line intact for a couple more years. They might not get the pub, but they are great as a unit.

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