After Stephen Tulloch went down with a torn ACL last season, the Detroit Lions called upon Tahir Whitehead to step in at middle linebacker. Whitehead used an outstanding preseason to emerge as the Lions' starting strongside linebacker, but he slid inside for the majority of the season and ended up performing extremely well.
This year, given how well Whitehead played, there was some thought that Tulloch could become a cap casualty. That didn't end up happening, though, and the Lions are expecting Tulloch to return to his starting middle linebacker role in 2015.
So, what does this mean for Whitehead? Well, the Lions know they have a solid backup option at middle linebacker if Tulloch ends up getting hurt again in the future. They also know they have a solid starting option at strongside linebacker, so Whitehead could end up in either role in 2015.
Caldwell expects Stephen Tulloch to reclaim starting job in middle. Said Tahir Whitehead could could either back him up or slide back to SAM
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) March 25, 2015
In all likelihood, Whitehead will go into the summer as the Lions' starting strongside linebacker. He will have to fend off the likes of Kyle Van Noy and Josh Bynes in order to remain in the starting lineup, but if his performance last season is any indication, there's a very good chance of him staying atop the depth chart at strongside linebacker.