As the Detroit Lions get nearer to their big Sunday showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their injury list appears to only get longer. During Thursday’s practice, rookie tight end Sam LaPorta was not present, dealing another blow to Detroit’s offense. At this point, we do not know the injury LaPorta is dealing with, as he was not listed on the Wednesday report. We’ll know more when the injury report drops on Thursday around 4 p.m. ET.
LaPorta has been one of the Lions’ key offensive players through five weeks. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson noted that it isn’t just about his record-setting production as a receiver (25 catches, 289 yards, 3 TDs), but he’s been phenomenal as a blocker, as well.
“You see a lot of young guys in this league, particularly in that position, they’re either really strong pass-catchers or maybe they’re shifted the other way and they’re more in the blocking department,” Johnson said. “And he’s equally good in both ways. So, (he’s) another member of our unit that is really invaluable to what we’re doing right now.”
The Lions are currently shorthanded at the tight end position. Shane Zylstra was lost for the season in training camp, and second-year player James Mitchell is currently dealing with a hamstring injury, missed last week, and hasn’t practiced this week. That leaves just Brock Wright and Darrell Daniels as the only two healthy tight ends currently on the roster, although Detroit did just sign veteran tight end Anthony Firkser to the practice squad this week—coincidentally right before LaPorta’s absence.
Also not practicing on Thursday were RB Jahmyr Gibbs (hamstring), RB Zonovan Knight (shoulder), TE Mitchell (hamstring), LG Jonah Jackson (ankle), CB Brian Branch (ankle), and Emmanuel Moseley (knee).