The Detroit Lions are adding a veteran tight end to their active roster, but one insider believes the team could plan to use him in the backfield for their upcoming game.
The Lions are signing tight end Darrell Daniels from the practice squad to the active roster, NFL insider Aaron Wilson reported on September 27. The move comes a day before the Lions face the Green Bay Packers in a divisional matchup on Thursday Night Football, and one insider believes the Lions plan to use him as a fullback.
Lions Make Roster Move
The Lions could be without fullback Jason Cabinda for this week’s game after he had to sit out Tuesday’s practice with a knee injury. Jeremy Reisman of SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit wrote that Daniels would likely fill Cabinda’s role in the backfield if he is unable to play this week.
“While Daniels has predominantly played as a tight end in this league, but in his past 3.5 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals—playing under Lions tight ends coach Steve Heiden—he was regularly getting snaps in the backfield,” Reisman wrote. “Per PFF, he took 49 snaps in the backfield in 2021 and 67 in 2020. He’s also very well experienced on special teams, something that will be necessary to fill Cabinda’s role on gamedays.”
The Lions initially signed Daniels in August after tight end Shane Zylstra suffered a serious knee injury. While he did not make the final 53-man roster at the cutdown deadline, Daniels found a place on the practice squad.
Daniels has appeared in 61 NFL games since entering the league in 2017, macking 13 total receptions for 122 yards with one touchdown. Daniels spent time with the XFL’s San Antoni Brahmas in 2023 before joining the Lions.
Lions Find Gold in Rookie Tight End
While Daniels may be able to fill in at tight end for the Lions, the team has given the majority of targets to rookie Sam LaPorta through the first three weeks. LaPorta has turned in three strong performances, becoming the first rookie tight end in league history to make at least five catches in each of his first three games.
LaPorta has a total of 18 receptions for 186 yards and one touchdown so far this season, earning some big praise from Jared Goff. The Lions quarterback said he could tell there was something special about LaPorta as soon as the two started working together this summer.
“The first day when he was at OTAs probably,” Goff said, via SB Nation’s Pride of Detroit. “He’s a stud. He’s a stud. Has a great feel for the game, has great hands, obviously has good speed, blocks well when we ask him to block. But I know for me personally, he does a great job in the rep progression.”
Goff added that he believes LaPorta will only continue to improve as he spends more time in the NFL.
“I think the most exciting part about him, and I’m sure he’d say this is, he’s not even playing as well as he really could,” Goff said. “There’s still some little rookie things that happen here or there that the sky’s the limit for him and it’s going to be fun to hopefully play with him for a long time.”