With Riley Reiff already on the roster, the Detroit Lions weren’t completely unprepared for the retirement of Jeff Backus. Still, his retirement earlier in the offseason came as somewhat of a surprise as Backus started 15 of 16 games during the 2012 season and was a regular at the team’s training facility as the offseason began.
The announcement didn’t just leave a hole at left tackle on the field, it left a void of experience at the position and veteran leadership with Gosder Cherilus also gone from the roster. As it turns out, Backus won’t be completely absent from the team in retirement. According to DetroitLions.com, Backus will serve as a part-time coaching intern helping with the offensive line.
Backus explained to the team’s website how the opportunity unfolded:
“It really just started with Jeremiah asking me to come in and sit in on meetings and watch some of their workouts and to be a mentor to some of their young offensive tackles,” Backus told Detroitlions.com.
“They don’t have any veteran offensive tackles in the room right now. I still live in the area and he just asked me, when I have time, to come in and do what I’ve always done.”
The lack of experience also extends to the coaching staff with Jeremiah Washburn, whose college career overlapped the time Backus spent at Michigan, beginning his first season as the Lions offensive line coach. Washburn had been the assistant offensive line coach since 2009.
How much time Backus will spend with the team remains to be seen. He cited family time as the number one reason why he decided to retire and that will remain his first priority despite adding this part-time coaching/mentoring role. However much time it ends up being has to be seen as a plus considering the current roster lacks a solid veteran presence for the younger players to emulate.