'Exactly Alike!' How Atlanta Falcons OL Chris Lindstrom, Drew Dalman Became 'Joined at the Hip'

Atlanta Falcons offensive linemen Chris Lindstrom and Drew Dalman grew up on different ends of the country but bear stark similarities.
Atlanta Falcons center Drew Dalman (left) and right guard Chris Lindstrom (right) have formed an unmistakable bond.
Atlanta Falcons center Drew Dalman (left) and right guard Chris Lindstrom (right) have formed an unmistakable bond. / USA Today Sports / FalconsSI
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons' offensive line eerily resembles a cult, head coach Raheem Morris joked during OTAs.

From their shirtless struts in flip flops to holding planks while the other position groups are walking off the practice field, Morris said Atlanta's line simply has a different feel to it.

And it's only fitting that two of the group's leaders are nearly identical.

Falcons center Drew Dalman and right guard Chris Lindstrom play next to each other on the field. Their synchronization is crucial for the combination and movement blocks required within Atlanta's wide-zone offense.

But their off-field chemistry is just as crucial. The 27-year-old Lindstrom is a two-time team captain. Dalman, who turns 26 later this year, is one of the leading voices in the offensive line room, according to Morris.

Lindstrom carries a more accomplished resume, rising from 2019 first-round pick to two-time All-Pro, but Dalman's ascent from 2021 fourth-round pick to two-year starter in the middle of Atlanta's offensive line isn't devalued by the organization.

Their resumes differ, but so do their upbringings. Dalman hails from Salinas, Calif., which is northeast of Monterey and has a population of over 160,000 people. Lindstrom, conversely, is a native of Dudley, Massachusetts, which holds 11,800 residents. Over 3,000 miles separates the two cities.

Yet when Lindstrom and Dalman enter the walls of Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch, nothing separates them.

"I have no idea how we found two guys exactly alike in Chris Lindstrom and Drew," Morris said during OTAs. "When it comes to demeanor, when it comes to personality, when it comes to that grit and that grind that you need and that toughness up front to play exactly next to each other."

Lindstrom and Dalman were the Falcons' two highest-graded offensive linemen last season, according to Pro Football Focus. They were also the team's best run blockers on a unit that finished No. 9 league-wide in rushing. Atlanta's running backs averaged 4.6 yards per carry across 107 attempts between the tackles.

PFF ranked Lindstrom as the NFL's best guard for the second year in a row and Dalman as the No. 3 center.

Falcons offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford has seen Lindstrom and Dalman more than perhaps anybody else over the past three years. He knows how they're wired and what makes them function as well as anyone in Atlanta's building.

And for as much on-field success as the tandem found last season, Ledford believes their similarities start off the field.

"I think just the way they carry themselves, the way they prepare," Ledford said. "They have a lot of similarities. There are certain things that we look for and that we are wanting in that room, and those two guys, they carry it out to the team."

The tone-setting habits Lindstrom and Dalman bring each day have helped give Atlanta's offensive line an element of uniqueness, Ledford said. It's a fun room due to the variety of personalities, but one that remains steadfast in paving running lanes and keeping quarterback Kirk Cousins upright.

Morris, who was an assistant on the Falcons coaching staff from 2015-20 and spent 11 games as interim head coach before departing in the spring of 2021 - knew all about Lindstrom when he returned to Atlanta this spring.

But upon arrival, he didn't know much about Dalman. He does now. Morris said he's been highly impressed with Dalman's pursuit of perfection and willingness to be coached, embodying the leadership qualities teams often look for in centers.

The Falcons view Lindstrom as a foundational building block up front; general manager Terry Fontenot gave him the largest contract for an offensive guard in NFL history in the spring of 2023 with a five-year deal worth up to $105 million.

Dalman is entering a contract year. His future in Atlanta remains uncertain, largely hinging on what he does in his third campaign as a starter. He had to have liked what he saw in the center market this year. Lloyd Cushenberry, a less accomplished player than Dalman, signed a 4-year, $50-millon ($26-million guaranteed) contract with the Titans.

But as the 6-3, 305-pound Stanford alum navigates through another offseason in Flowery Branch, he's doing so in an environment fit for growth: Attached to Lindstrom's side.

"One of them is finishing a play, the other person is right beside him," Ledford said. "Every time when they're doing something - if they're in the weight room, the other ones right there beside. So, they're always paired together doing things. They are truly joined at the hip."

The question becomes whether they'll get another offseason to do so - but for now, the duo is focused on turning a growth-filled 2023 season into an even better 2024, and Morris entered summer break filled with confidence that they're on the right track.

"It’s a tough time for that interior part of the line," Morris said. "But I’m really pleased with that starting five."

Daniel Flick


Daniel Flick is an accredited NFL writer for Sports Illustrated's FanNation. Daniel has provided boots-on-ground coverage at the NFL Combine and from the Atlanta Falcons' headquarters, among other destinations, and contributed to the annual Lindy's Sports Magazine ahead of the 2023 offseason. Daniel is a co-host on the 404TheFalcon podcast and previously wrote for the Around the Block Network and Georgia Sports Hospitality Media.