Delmas sets sights on healthy return; Lions camp continues

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) - Saturday marks the Lions' eighth practice of training camp, and with the first preseason game less than a week away, several storylines continue to develop in Allen Park.

One of the most prominent position battles is for the third starting linebacker spot. Throughout camp, Ashlee Palmer, Tahir Whitehead, and Travis Lewis have been getting equal first-team reps. 

However, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said Friday that Lewis may be better suited to play inside linebacker, leaving Palmer and Whitehead at the head of the pack for the vacant outside linebacker spot.

Elsewhere on the defensive side of the ball, the newcomers in the secondary continue to impress the Lions' coaching staff.  When asked about the progress rookie cornerback Darius Slay has made, Cunningham said he's enjoyed watching Slay go up against Calvin Johnson in practice, and that Johnson "really respects him."

Slay has been limited in practice lately though, battling a sprained left ankle. Cunningham also praised safety Glover Quin for his intelligence and productivity, calling him an "all-out football player."

Slay's fellow safety, Louis Delmas, also did not practice on Friday.  Delmas, who is dealing with soreness and swelling in his surgically-repaired left knee, has not practiced since Tuesday. 

Head coach Jim Schwartz downplayed the situation, saying the team is trying to be proactive in keeping Delmas from practicing when he's already sore. Schwartz also said that one of the days Delmas missed was a scheduled day off.

On offense, the competition has been fierce for the fourth and fifth wide receiver spots behind Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Ryan Broyles.  Third-year receiver Kris Durham has been making a case to earn one of those spots in practice. 

The 6'6" Durham has turned heads and wowed fans with long touchdown catches, as well as the ability to go up top to make a catch.  Other receivers in the mix include sixth-round pick Corey Fuller, Patrick Edwards, Mike Thomas, and Morgan Spurlock.  Perhaps some extra incentive comes from Schwartz, who has said he is hoping to get more production out of the fourth and fifth receivers this year.

Dylan Gandy and rookie Larry Warford are among those battling for starting spots on the offensive line.  Both Gandy (right guard) and Warford (left guard) practiced with the first team on Friday, but Schwartz cautioned against jumping to conclusions, saying that while all the guys are in the mix, he's looking for who can be the most consistent over time.

After Saturday and Sunday's "Family Weekend" practices, the Lions will practice Tuesday and Wednesday in Allen Park in preparation for Friday's preseason opener against the New York Jets at Ford Field.  The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and can be seen live on WXYZ.

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