Lions Get Good News on TE Sam LaPorta for NFC Championship Game

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.

The Detroit Lions may finally have a fully healthy Sam LaPorta, with the rookie tight end moving beyond his nagging knee injury at just the right time.

LaPorta injured his knee in the season finale and had been playing hurt through the first two playoff wins, but was able to return to practice in full on January 26 and goes into Sunday’s NFC Championship game with no injury designation.

LaPorta was a big part of the team’s passing attack this season, setting franchise records for his position and helping spark a youth movement alongside running back Jahmyr Gibbs. It could be important for the Lions to get their breakout star back to full health as they try to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

Lions Getting Healthy on Offense

The outlook initially looked grim when LaPorta suffered a hyperextended knee in the January 7 season finale against the Minnesota Vikings, but he was able to return for the wild-card round game. LaPorta has maintained his role in the offense, making 12 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown through two playoff wins.

LaPorta had been limited in practice earlier this week but was able to return in full on Friday and cleared to play in the team’s January 28 game against the San Franciso 49ers with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

The Lions got some more good news on Friday, with center Frank Ragnow also returning to practice in full and carrying no injury designation.

The team did bring in some reinforcement this week, signing veteran tight end Zach Ertz to the practice squad. The veteran said he’s excited to join head coach Dan Campbell on the team.

“I love Dan,” Ertz told reporters. “We had a 20-minute conversation yesterday, and so I’m excited to see him in front of the team because he’s a guy I’ve had a lot of respect for over the years.

“He’s a guy that always gets his tight ends playing the right way. So I’m excited to be around him.”

Lions Found Breakout Star in Sam LaPorta

The Lions took some criticism when they used a second-round pick on LaPorta, especially given the team’s deep needs in the secondary and the first-round pick they used on another skill player, the running back Gibbs.

LaPorta set a franchise record for tight end with 86 receptions, which also set an NFL record for all rookie tight ends. He added 10 touchdowns and 889 receiving yards, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.

Campbell has also praised LaPorta’s versatility, saying there is a lot he can do beyond catching passes.

“He’s really just taken off in the things that he’s able to do,” Campbell said, via The Athletic. “What he brings to the table, his blitz ability, his coverage ability, the fits in the run game, all of that.”

Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson joined in praising LaPorta, saying he’s got skill well beyond his years.

“I tell you, man, the kid just continues to impress,” Johnson said. “It’s one way or another. It’s what he does on the field. … I mean, it’s incredible for a rookie. He really is.”

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