BBAO: It's Ashlee Palmer in a runaway

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: