The first time he caught a Muhlbach snap, he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to snap it back.
“He throws a bullet,” said Landes, the rookie long-snapper drafted to challenge and possibly replace Muhlbach. “I found that out, quick. He was warming up with me and I caught his first snap and my hands were already sore.
“I could hardly snap back to him. Yeah, he throws a bullet back there.”
Landes didn’t know what type of reaction he’d receive from the veteran after he was drafted by the Lions in the sixth round last month. Muhlbach has been considered one of the better snappers in the NFL and it was clear the Lions used a pick to try and ensure they would have a player to challenge and potentially replace the longest-tenured player on the Detroit roster.
Yet so far, there have been no issues other than some sore hands.
“I was coming up here maybe expecting, all right, maybe a little hostility from Don,” Landes said. “And I’ve had nothing and it’s been awesome. Being able to learn from him and watch him snap and see how he’s perfect on everything and just having him as a mentor. He’s been a great guy to me.”
Both know, though, that there is going to be room for only one of them on Detroit’s 53-man roster this fall. Muhlbach’s spot, up until Landes was drafted, was probably the most secure on the team. Now, it’ll be the most contentious since there is only one snapping spot available.
So far, the tension hasn’t been there, but even Landes acknowledges it is early and so far, Muhlbach has been a friend. The two were even at the same small table signing autographs at Wednesday night’s Taste of the Lions dinner. Eventually, though, it’ll get even more competitive as offseason workouts turn into training camp, preseason games and then a decision for head coach Jim Caldwell and general manager Bob Quinn between Landes and Muhlbach.
Landes said, though, he realizes he has a pretty sweet gig –something that will pay him $100,356 whether he ever actually plays a down for the Lions. If he makes the team, he’ll get salary for doing one thing a few times a game.
“It’s awesome,” Landes said. “League minimum, just throwing the ball through my legs.”