Lions could wait until final week of preseason to pick between veteran Muhlbach and sixth-round pick Landes
Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
They have nearly four months of data to work with, charting every snap from the start of organized team activities through their last preseason game, but special teams coordinator Joe Marciano said the Detroit Lions still haven’t decided whether veteran Don Muhlbach or rookie Jimmy Landes will handle long-snapping duties this year.
Muhlbach has been the Lions’ trusted long-snapper since midway through the 2004 season, but the team brought in serious competition for him for the first time this year when it drafted Landes in the sixth round out of Baylor.
Both players have had good camps, Marciano said, though he saved his highest praise for Muhlbach.
“Don’s good,” Marciano said. “The best way to describe Don is he’s flawless. He may be 35, but he’s playing like a 25-year-old.”
Landes “hasn’t been flawless,” Marciano said, but the rookie has been good enough that the Lions could take the unusual step of waiting until after their fourth preseason game against the Buffalo Bills to pick a snapper.
“The young kid’s doing pretty good,” Marciano said. “Obviously, he’s gotten a lot better. The first day we put pads on the speed of the game was a little bit new to him. He wants more of that, he needs more of that. We test him this week in practice, and he’s doing OK. He’s doing OK. I mean, Mules, he’s flawless. As is (punter) Sam (Martin). As is (kicker Matt) Prater. Those guys are really, really good.”
While the difference in snap times between Muhlbach and Landes has been difficult to discern and both players have largely been on point with their snaps in exhibition play, Marciano said Muhlbach has superior “knowledge of the game.”
“That’s what Jimmy don’t have,” Marciano said. “He don’t have knowledge of the game. How can you expect him to cause he hasn’t played in the game? Don comes off the field, he’ll tell you the front, he’ll tell you what they did, what the call was.”
Muhlbach, by his own estimation, has had “a good camp,” though he said he’s trying not to focus on the winner-take-all decision ahead.
“I’m just trying to come here and every day and do what I can do,” he said. “That decision’s upstairs and hopefully I’ll make it interesting for them.
“I’m just trying to show them I can still do it, that’s what I want.”
Contact Dave Birkett: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.