Ashlee Palmer was the Lions’ best special-teams player last year, so dependable in coverage that he earned a two-year, $3.25-million extension at the end of the season.

This year, Palmer is ready for an expanded role — he hopes as the Lions’ starting left outside linebacker, and he said it doesn’t have to come at the expense of his special-teams play.

“I still love special teams,” Palmer said Wednesday after the Lions’ second OTA workout of the spring. “I’m still a die-hard special-teams guy, but just a little more added to my plate and planning on taking on the challenge.”

Palmer is splitting first-team reps at linebacker with Travis Lewis and Tahir Whitehead for now, but if he wins the starting job and keeps his role on special teams — he was on the field for 65.4% of the Lions’ special-teams snaps last year, tied for most on the team — he’ll join a select group of linebackers who rarely come off the field.

Last year, just four linebackers played more than 50% of their teams’ snaps on both defense and special teams.

Washington’s Perry Riley and Arizona’s Sam Acho were the only full-time starters of the group, and none of the quartet — Indianapolis’ Jerry Hughes and Cleveland’s Craig Robertson were the other two — played close to Palmer’s 327 special-teams plays.

Whitehead, Lewis and linebacker Cory Greenwood, a special-teams stalwart in Kansas City whom the Lions claimed off waivers earlier this month, could assume some of Palmer’s special-teams role if Palmer starts.