Landes struggling in bid for Lions' long-snapper job

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Baltimore —The Detroit Lions gave Jimmy Landes an opportunity to stake his claim for the long-snapping job in the team’s third exhibition game against the Baltimore Ravens, and while coach Jim Caldwell was hesitant to criticize the performance, it’s becoming clearer the rookie isn’t the best option.

Landes handled all 10 long snaps in the contest — five punts and five field-goal attempts — and struggled with accuracy throughout the evening. His first punt snap was high, another one wide. On Matt Prater’s 53-yard field goal attempt, which clanked off the right upright, the snap appeared to hit the ground, although it was expertly retrieved and cleanly put down by holder Sam Martin.

“We’ll kind of take a look at the snap, but obviously the snap was low,” Caldwell said. “Sam got his hands on it. He’s very, very good at recovering, so we’ll see what happens when we look at the tape.”

The Baylor product fired another field goal snap low, at the end of the game, but Martin was again able to save the day, getting the ball down for backup kicker Devin Bell to convert the 33-yard attempt. During the home broadcast on Fox 2, cameras showed Landes venting on the sidelines. 

Ironically, one of the Landes’ more accurate long snaps resulted in a badly struck ball by Bell, a low knuckler that came up well short from 47 yards away. 

Asked to assess Landes’ overall performance after the game, Caldwell’s attitude didn’t seem to reflect reality.

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“I think he’ll be OK,” he said. “I won’t say he did great, but he did OK. That’s a fact.”

Landes has been locked in a position battle with 13-year veteran Don Muhlbach, who has given the Lions little to complain about during his lengthy tenure with the organization. 

Despite Muhlbach’s track record, the Lions drafted Landes in the sixth round of the NFL draft to provide competition for the veteran. While there’s more than goes into the role than simply snapping, the eye test suggests Muhlbach remains significantly ahead in the competition. 

Muhlbach was dressed for the game in Baltimore but didn’t play. 

Roster decisions must be made next week. The Lions must trim from a maximum 90 players to 75 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday and down to 53 by Saturday afternoon.

Center Jimmy Landes

Twitter: @justin_rogers