As the offseason winds down, we're going to project each position on the Detroit Lions depth chart and also take a look at some training camp battles. Next up is the linebacker position.
Starters: DeAndre Levy (WLB), Stephen Tulloch (MLB), Kyle Van Noy (SLB) | Top backup: Ashlee Palmer
Under the Lions' new defensive scheme, DeAndre Levy is set to be their weakside linebacker. Stephen Tulloch is back again as their middle linebacker, and second-round pick Kyle Van Noy is expected to be their starting strongside linebacker. Ashlee Palmer, who started 10 games last season, may enter training camp as the starter at the SLB spot on paper, but Van Noy is expected to be atop the depth chart sooner rather than later. This means that Palmer will likely be the Lions' top backup at linebacker.
Other players: Tahir Whitehead, Travis Lewis, Cory Greenwood, Julian Stanford, Brandon Hepburn, Justin Jackson
The rest of the depth chart at linebacker is really just a collection of special teams players at this point. The hope is for someone like Tahir Whitehead to emerge as a potential contributor at linebacker, but his special teams skills are the main reason he's listed here first. He was the Lions' special teams MVP last season, and he's really the only sure thing when it comes to who will make the 53-man roster from this group.
Camp battle to watch: Kyle Van Noy vs. Ashlee Palmer
It would be quite surprising if Van Noy isn't the Lions' starting strongside linebacker when the regular season begins, but he does have to actually beat out Palmer. Van Noy is going to be given every opportunity to break into the starting lineup, but Palmer isn't going to go down without a fight, so this is a battle worth watching.
Previously: Quarterback, running back, fullback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive tackle, offensive guard/center, defensive end, defensive tackle