Lions Make Big Move on TE Sam LaPorta for Playoff Game Against Rams

Sam LaPorta

Getty Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta opened up about his early career success in an interview with Fox 2's Dan Miller.

One week after suffering a frightening injury, Sam LaPorta will be taking the field for the Detroit Lions for their first playoff game in three decades.

The Lions announced their inactive list for the January 14 wild-card round game against the Los Angeles Rams, and the rookie tight end was listed as active for the game. LaPorta suffered a hyperextended knee in the Week 18 season finale against the Minnesota Vikings, but gave indications during the week that he would try to take the field on Sunday.

Sam LaPorta Predicted Return

LaPorta’s outlook initially appeared bleak when he suffered the injury on January 7, with some insiders speculating that he could miss several weeks while recovering. But LaPorta himself had a more optimistic outlook, saying on January 11 that he was pleased with his improvement so far and hopeful he would be able to play.

“Starting to feel better, day by day, and see where it takes me tomorrow,” LaPorta said, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News. “Really, just taking it a day at a time, because when it first happened, it didn’t feel great, and I feel like I’ve started to bounce back quickly, so we’ll see.”

LaPorta added that he might be forced to take a slightly different role, predicting that he would still be physically limited for the game and most likely wearing a knee brace to prevent it from hyperextending again.

“I’m always out there trying to add value for the team. Of course I want to be out there,” LaPorta said. “It’s certainly a little different approach to what I’ve had the previous 17 weeks. I’m not out there getting as many reps as I had these past few weeks. So, certainly staying on top of the game-planning aspect, while trying to recover my body and make it feel good, be ready for the game.”

The Lions added a bit of insurance, moving veteran tight end Anthony Firkser from the practice squad to the active roster the day before Sunday’s wild-card game. Firkser appeared in two games for the Lions this season, playing mainly on special teams. He has 115 receptions for 1,207 yards and five touchdowns in 71 career games.

Rookie Tight End’s Big Season

Sunday’s game against the Rams is the first playoff game in Detroit since 1993, as the Lions won their first division title since Barry Sanders was in the backfield. LaPorta is coming off a sensational rookie season, setting franchise records for receptions (86), yards (886) and touchdowns (10) by a Lions tight end.

LaPorta became a favorite target for Jared Goff and earned some big praise from the veteran quarterback last month.

“Yeah, (I’m) as comfortable (with him) as anyone I’ve played with,” Goff said via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News. “And for a rookie, that’s pretty tremendous. I’d compare it directly to what Saint (Amon-Ra St. Brown) was doing as a rookie, as far as on the field and off the field and the type of pro he is, knowing his assignments. He rarely has a (missed assignment), rarely has that type of rookie mistake. Very rarely. He’s such a reliable guy and a guy that I count on in those crunch times. I know he’s a clutch player.”

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