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2018 Detroit Lions Awards: Special Teams Player of the Year

Who was the best special teams player on the Lions in 2018?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t a great year for the Detroit Lions special teams unit. Halfway through the season, the unit was performing so poorly that the Lions decided to part ways with their special teams coordinator.

That being said, the unit rebounded. By the end of the year, the Lions actually placed 12th overall in Rick Gosselin’s special teams rankings. One player even earned himself a Pro Bowl appearance. So there are some worthy candidates for the first Pride of Detroit Award: Special Teams Player of the Year.

(Note: While I really wanted to put Audible Dong in here, I don’t think it’s fair to put a joke answer in a poll. By my experience, joke answers win polls 99 percent of the time. Don’t worry, Audible Dong will have a chance at a different POD award this year.)

Matt Prater

Prater won the 2016 Special Teams Player of the Year award from Pride of Detroit, and he put up another worthy performance in 2018. Prater only missed four field goals all year—the fewest career misses since 2015. He was again perfect on extra points for the seventh time in his career.

But perhaps most importantly, at age 34, he did this:

Don Muhlbach

It’s hard to quantify the value of a reliable long-snapper. There are no flashy stats or PFF grades or efficiency numbers. However, one way you can tell a long snapper is valueable is longevity, and Muhlbach has that in spades. He’s been a staple of the Lions special teams unit since midway through the 2004 season and has bested all the long snapper training camp battles that he’s faced.

And this year he made his second career Pro Bowl... for whatever reason.

Sam Martin

After an odd 2017 season in which a conch shell-related non-football injury caused Martin’s numbers to drop, the Lions punter rebounded nicely in 2018. He increased his average yards per punt by over a yard and his net average by 1.6 yards.

Perhaps most impressive was that Martin set a career high in putns inside the 20, with 32 (sixth-most in the NFL). Additionally, he only tallied four touchbacks. Comparatively, he only had 13 inside the 20 last year and six touchbacks in only 10 games.

Charles Washington

Washington made the roster mostly due to his special teams skills and they were on display all year until an injury cost him the final three games of the season. According to, Washington had six special teams tackles on the year, serving mostly as the team’s gunner.

Your vote decides the winner!


Who is the Lions’ Special Teams Player of the Year?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Matt Prater
    (250 votes)
  • 25%
    Don Muhlbach
    (95 votes)
  • 6%
    Sam Martin
    (25 votes)
  • 2%
    Charles Washington
    (10 votes)
380 votes total Vote Now

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