As part of our season wrap-up series, we are going to examine how each player on the roster performed in 2014. Next, let's take a look at the Detroit Lions' linebackers. (Note: Stats are from regular-season games only.)
DeAndre Levy - 16 games (16 starts) | 151 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 safety, 4 PD, 1 INT
Levy once again had a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2014. He once again was snubbed from the game, though, and generally speaking, he didn't receive much national recognition. Even so, he continued to be one of the Lions' top defensive players, and he also established himself as a real leader on defense following an injury to a fellow linebacker.
Stephen Tulloch - 3 games (3 starts) | 20 tackles, 2.0 sacks
Tulloch was on the receiving end of that injury. He went down with a torn ACL early in the season on a celebration gone wrong. It was a hugely disappointing injury at the time, and now there's some question about whether the Lions will even keep Tulloch on the team going forward given his contract and how well his replacement played.
Tahir Whitehead - 16 games (15 starts) | 86 tackles, 5 PD, 2 INT
Whitehead started the season with an impressive showing at strongside linebacker, but he slid inside to middle linebacker following Tulloch's injury. There, Whitehead continued to play extremely well, and he also continued to play extremely well on special teams. His game really grew in 2014, and he should be in the mix to start again in 2015 (either at MLB or SLB depending on what happens with Tulloch).
Josh Bynes - 13 games (0 starts) | 22 tackles, 1 PD, 1 FR, 1 INT
Bynes ended up joining the Lions after being signed off the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad. He received more and more playing time as the season progressed, and he looks like a player who could contribute at multiple spots at linebacker. Going into 2015, he appears to be a strong candidate for the Lions' top backup spot at linebacker.
Ashlee Palmer - 16 games (5 starts) | 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 PD
When Whitehead shifted over to middle linebacker, Palmer was called upon to step in at strongside linebacker. For about five weeks or so, Palmer actually received quite a bit of playing time when the Lions weren't in their nickel package. As the season progressed, however, Palmer's role seemed to get smaller and smaller as Bynes became a more consistent part of the defense.
Kyle Van Noy - 8 games (0 starts) | 6 tackles
Van Noy spent the first half of the 2014 season on injured reserve after having surgery in late August. When he returned, the hope was that Van Noy would step right into the strongside linebacker spot and play a role on defense, but that just never really happened. His snaps were quite limited once he returned, and he mainly played on special teams. That surgery really cost Van Noy any shot at contributing on defense as a rookie.
Julian Stanford - 14 games (0 starts) | 2 tackles
Much like at the end of the 2013 season, Stanford was strictly on the team in 2014 for his special teams contributions. He was promoted from the practice squad when an injury opened up a spot, and he only played on defense in two games all season.
Travis Lewis - 2 games (0 starts) | 2 tackles
Lewis had his season ended early by an injury after serving in a special teams-only role for two whole games. If he wants to stick around next season, he will have to stay healthy and beat out Stanford on special teams.