When new Lions special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs has his first special teams meeting this offseason, he'll stand in front of a room that could potentially feature 38-year-old long snapper Don Muhlbach and 35-year-old kicker Matt Prater. At 33 years old, Coombs will be younger than some of his players.
"The one thing I don't ever think about is my age," Coombs said. "I know other people think about it and talk about it, but I was 24 when I started coaching in the NFL. That was a challenge a little bit. To me, I don't think about it now.
"In terms of the benefits, again, age is really just a number. I'm going to be high energy. I'm going to be running around at practice. I'm going to be excited. All those things. In my experience with NFL football players in general, they don't really care about your age, they don't really care about your past. What they want to know is how are you going to help them be a better football player."
That age is just a number line from Coombs could certainly resonate with a guy like Muhlbach. The oldest player on the Lions roster, Muhlbach is currently tied for the 56th most games played in NFL history (244). He's only the second player in Lions history to play in 16 seasons, but the real question this offseason is: Will there be a 17th?
Muhlbach was somewhat noncommittal following the season. He plans to go home to Texas, try to fit into his wife's routine with the kids – something he half jokingly admits he messes up just about every offseason – and will go from there when it comes to making a football decision. He did say, however, that he's never thought about not coming back.
Muhlbach's become a creature of habit over 16 NFL seasons, and has an offseason routine that features Yoga, Pilates and a strict lifting schedule that's kept the Nolan Ryan of long snappers going strong for this long.
"I feel fine (physically)," he said after the season. "Old. But good. All these guys keep me young, it's kind of nice."
His new special teams coordinator will assist in that, if there is indeed a 17th season in the cards for Muhlbach. For as steady as Muhlbach's been over the years, the Lions will eventually have to think about a long-term replacement. As much as Muhlbach's defied the odds up to this point, he can't play forever.
Detroit drafted long snapper Jimmy Landes in the sixth round in 2016, but Muhlbach easily won that competition. Muhlbach isn't the only long snapper currently on Detroit's roster. The team signed James Fisher to a futures deal following the season. Muhlbach could face offseason competition even if he is re-signed.
There's still plenty of time before Muhlbach or the Lions have to decide what the long snapper position looks like in 2020, but if Muhlbach does set his sights on a 17th season, it will be hard to count him out, and his new young coordinator will be happy to lean on his experience.
"As a first-time coordinator, you have a lot on your plate," Coombs said. "It's a huge challenge and it's great and all that, but to have those guys that I know I can count on to go out there and do it, it's kind of one less thing that stresses you out."