We're Black and Blue All Over:
For much of the offseason and early summer, I assumed that if the Detroit Lions' competition at strongside linebacker was close, it would go to one of the second-year players -- Travis Lewis or Tahir Whitehead -- who were among those in contention. Apparently the competition was not close.
Veteran Ashlee Palmer, who has spent his career as a special-teams ace, has worked exclusively with the first team for the past two weeks, points out Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Coach Jim Schwartz hasn't named Palmer his Week 1 starter yet, but said: "I don't know that race is over yet, but he has certainly taken the lead."
Palmer has had a good camp by all accounts, but the competition must also be viewed in part as a disappointment after the Lions drafted Lewis and Whitehead last summer knowing that both of their 2012 outside linebackers -- DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant -- were in the final year of their contracts. Levy re-signed in the offseason, but neither Lewis nor Whitehead has been able to slip into Durant's role. (We discussed the Lions' late-round draft issues Tuesday.)
Continuing around the NFC North:
Lions rookie punter Sam Martin is just trying to slow down, writes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
It doesn't make sense for the Lions to play safety Louis Delmas in Thursday's preseason game against the New England Patriots, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Former Lions receiver Mike Thomas signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals, notes Mike Sando of ESPN.com, and thus could reduce what the Lions owe him from $1 million to $285,000 if he makes the team.
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times after former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka was a guest at practice: "Ditka is back where he belongs -- in the warm embrace of the Bears. Let’s hear it for the natural order being restored."
Spreading the ball to receivers other than Brandon Marshall appears to be a sensitive topic for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton and receiver Earl Bennett remain sidelined by concussions, notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
It doesn't appear that the roster spot of Green Bay Packers fan favorite John Kuhn is in jeopardy, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy on tight end Jermichael Finley, via Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "He's having his finest training camp, I think it's clear-cut."
Packers safety M.D. Jennings is still trying to get over the Fail Mary. More from Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
It has been an up-and-down summer for Packers running back James Starks, writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Former Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff will find out Wednesday if he was nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame by its seniors committee. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune explains.
The San Francisco 49ers could give the Vikings a look at the read-option Sunday, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
Vikings receiver Greg Jennings is trying to mentor the team's young receivers, according to Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.