Ashlee Palmer ready to compete to keep his starting spot

Posted Jun 18, 2014

It’s only a matter of time before rookie Kyle Van Noy takes over as a permanent starter, right? Logic says yes, but veteran Ashlee Palmer doesn’t think it will be that easy.

The Lions drafted Kyle Van Noy to be their starting SAM (strong side) linebacker in Teryl Austin’s revamped scheme.

Ashlee PalmerLB Ashlee Palmer (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Van Noy has the size and all the necessary tools to fill the role of a versatile on-the-line-of-scrimmage backer that can rush the quarterback, play the run and drop into coverage, which is the job description for the SAM in this defense

He started his Lions career by taking second-team reps behind veteran Ashlee Palmer, but did mix in some first-team reps during minicamp.

It’s only a matter of time before Van Noy takes over as a permanent starter, right?

Logic says yes, but Palmer doesn’t think it will be as easy as that. He likes how his skill set fits in at the SAM linebacker spot and is looking forward to the competition in training camp.

“He’s a draft pick,” Palmer said of Van Noy. “Every year there’s going to be someone they’re bringing in, so I just have to continue to work.”

As a six-year veteran, Palmer said it wasn’t hard for him to pick up the system. He admitted it wasn’t too hard for Van Noy, either, because he ran a similar system at BYU.

“We’re here to compete and that’s what we’re going to do,” Palmer said.

Last year was Palmer's first as a full-time starter in the NFL. He took the starting spot of Justin Durant (signed with Cowboys last offseason) and finished with 33 tackles and one pass defended as a two-down player.

The responsibilities for the SAM are completely different this year, however. So much so that Palmer almost considers it a whole new position.

“I actually do like it,” he said. “It’s a little bit of both. You’re not just in one area on the field. You’re on the line of scrimmage, you’re off, you’re inside and you’re walked. They have a lot of things they do with the SAM and a lot of things they do within the defense.”

Palmer said it’s the aggressive nature of the defense that he loves the most.

“The last couple years the linebackers never got to blitz much,” Palmer said. “In this defense we’re going.”

Because it’s such a new position, Palmer said we’ll have to wait until the pads come on to see who fits it best and who can do what.

The odds are in favor of Van Noy coming out of minicamp as the starting SAM, but Palmer plans to give the rookie a run for his money.