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Lions LBs mix of experience and newcomers

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm •  Published: August 20, 2013
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions lost one of their three starting linebackers in free agency. His likely replacement will be a familiar face.

Ashlee Palmer, who saw plenty of action on special teams last season, will join Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy in the middle of the defense this fall. He replaces starter Justin Durant, who's now battling for a job in Dallas.

"Some people might not realize I've been here four years now," Palmer said Tuesday. "Being in this system has helped me learn it a lot more."

The lead trio also has been helping a largely inexperienced group get acclimated this summer. Aside from the presumed starters, only Travis Lewis and Tahir Whitehead were on the field for an NFL snap in 2012.

Palmer led the Lions in special teams tackles last season and got a pair of starts in place of the injured Levy at linebacker. Spending a fourth season in defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham's system has made the transition to a starting job easier.

"It's just knowing the scheme and what we're going to run week in and week out," he said.

He was an undrafted rookie free agent with Buffalo in 2009 and the Lions signed him off waivers the following season. Palmer's seen action in every game since.

Coach Jim Schwartz wouldn't say Palmer has locked up the starting job, but added he's done nothing to work his way out of it.

"He certainly has taken the lead," Schwartz said. "He's been consistent through training camp, he's made plays in preseason games, he's played physical.

"He's put together a nice string and he's been consistent and that's what he was working to become as a player."

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