| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions get Christmas gifts; is win over Tom Brady in their stocking?
Free Press sports writers Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez hand out gifts for the Detroit Lions, and predict the game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Carlos Monarrez and Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
The longest-tenured Detroit Lion does not sound like he’s done playing football.
Long snapper Don Muhlbach said Wednesday that he is open to returning for an 18th NFL season at age 40 and is comfortable navigating another regime change.
“I mean, I’ve done it before, so maybe I could help with it,” Muhlbach said. “I don’t know. I do feel like I want to get this thing going in the right direction before they get rid of me, so I don’t know. All I know is, right now, my body feels pretty good and just see what happens the next two weeks.”
INTERIM FOR INTERIM?: With Bevell out Saturday, Prince takes over as head coach
VETERAN TOUCH: No, Stafford won’t be Lions’ player-coach vs. Buccaneers
Muhlbach has played on a series of one-year, minimum-salary-and-benefit deals since 2013.
Typically, he takes a few weeks after the season to decompress, then sits down with his wife and children to decide if he wants to play another year.
He said Wednesday that 2021 will be no different.
“I just kind of want to talk to my family and talk to whoever’s here and see what the plans are,” he said. “I think it’s really too early to make any of those calls right now.”
Last spring, the Lions brought in what Muhlbach said was the most serious competition he has faced when they signed Steven Wirtel as an undrafted free agent.
Wirtel had a strong training camp and nearly won the job, but the organization preferred to go with a more experienced hand as it also broke in first-year punter Jack Fox. Wirtel has spent the entire regular season on practice squad, and the Lions are expected to try and sign him to a futures deal after the season.
“Steve’s very good. Very good,” Muhlbach said.
The Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn last month, and the new regime likely will not have any ties to either Muhlbach or Wirtel.
Already, the team fired special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs, who Muhlbach said he “learned a lot from” in their one season together.
“And like you guys have been writing all year, we’ve been playing pretty well and it was a different energy he brought this year,” Muhlbach said. “I talked to him the other day, I thanked him for everything he did for me. He helped me specifically see things a different way, which is kind of refreshing after a few years of doing it.”
Muhlbach will move into a tie for 38th place on the NFL’s all-time games played list —it’s game No. 258 — Saturday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He turns 40 in August and said he still feels as if he’s playing at a high level.
“I’m probably a tad biased, but I think I’m doing pretty good,” he said. “And I feel good. That’s the thing is talking to other guys, when you start not feeling great and it affects things. But I feel like I’m — it took me a little longer this year not having the offseason. I think I was a little rusty when we started, but I found my groove here once we got going and I still think I can play in this league.”