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Don Muhlbach getting used to new faces on special teams units

Detroit Lions long snapper Don Muhlbach is the lone holdover from last season when it comes to the team's specialists.


Up until 2013, the Detroit Lions had the luxury of not having to worry too much about their three specialists. Jason Hanson spent more than two decades as the Lions' starting kicker, for example, and Don Muhlbach has been their long snapper since 2004. There have been a few different starting punters over the last 10 or so years, but Nick Harris was around for a good part of the last decade.

Going into the 2013 season, only Muhlbach remains. Hanson decided to retire, and the Lions finally decided to replace Harris. Now the Lions have David Akers and Havard Rugland at kicker and Sam Martin and Blake Clingan at punter. Akers and Martin are expected to start at their respective positions, as is Muhlbach.

You might not think that a new kicker or punter makes a huge difference for the long snapper, but it does take some time for everybody to get on the same page. For Muhlbach, he admitted that having a left-footed kicker was a bit different at first. From the Lions' official site:

"I've never had a left-footed kicker before," Muhlbach said. "The first few times I'd get down, it was like, 'you're on the wrong side; no you're not.' It's more visual. You're still aiming at a knee. You're still putting it there.

"It's not that big a deal. That's why we have the offseason, so you can work on it and get it. Hopefully, you all won't notice when we get out there for real."

Since both Akers and Rugland are lefties, Martin actually started practicing holds for left-footed kickers before he was even drafted by the Lions. It didn't take him long to get used to having everything flipped around, as Martin told the Lions' official site that holding for a right-footed kicker would actually now feel a bit "weird."

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