Allen Park — It’s early in practice and the Detroit Lions have paired the wide receivers and defensive backs in a drill focused on helping players track a deep ball. But as they get to the end of the line, there’s an odd number of defensive backs, so receivers coach Robert Prince hops in and runs alongside undrafted rookie Bobby Price.
Normally, when a coach chips in on a rep, things slow down quite a bit. But not with Prince, who runs full throttle and aggressively bangs with the defensive back down the field.
You could almost convince yourself Prince, who is well into his 50s, could hang with these guys for at least a few snaps on Sunday.
“Best in-shape 55-year-old I’ve ever met in my life,” Lions receiver Danny Amendola said. “We work out together usually, every other day in the weight room, and he’s incredible.”
That checks out. Hours before most games, you’ll see Prince jogging up and down the stadium steps. And head to Prince’s Instagram page and you’ll find photos and videos of him lifting heavy weights and surfing. A couple years ago, he even tried to run with the bulls in Pamplona, only to have the plan derailed by going to the wrong spot the day of the event.
In terms of his coaching credentials, the fact that Prince is still on staff speaks volumes. He and research assistant Evan Rothstein are the lone holdovers from Jim Caldwell’s staff.
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“He’s awesome,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “I love him. I love the way he coaches. I love his energy. He’s super smart, very intelligent, understands the offense. He’s been in a lot of different schemes. He’s great with the players. I think he really develops players, he makes his players better, which as a coach, is what you want. Just couldn’t be a better person.
“I lean on him a lot,” Patricia said. “I think the world of him and his family and I’m lucky to have that situation where I can walk in and have such a great coach like that and be able to keep him on my staff and work with him every day.”
Detroit’s receiving corps is clearly one of the roster’s strengths entering the 2020 season. That’s because Prince has played a significant role in the development of Kenny Golladay, helping mold the third-round pick out of Northern Illinois into one of the game’s top young players at the position. Prince also squeezes the most out of his veterans, whether it’s the current collective of Marvin Jones, Marvin Hall and Amendola or former Lions such as Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate.
“One of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Amendola said. “Brings the juice every single day. Gets guys in the right mentality, day in and day out. Meetings, practices, games, just an amazing coach to play for. Love him to death, and just really happy to be playing for him.”