Following a dominating game in Week 13, Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta has won Pepsi’s NFL Rookie of the Week. The fan-voted honors were given to LaPorta after his record-breaking performance against the New Orleans Saints. The rookie tight end caught all nine passes thrown his way for a franchise record (for rookie TEs) of 140 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s not easy to play this position as a rookie and to do all that we’re asking him to do because he does it all,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said this week. “It’s in the run game, it’s protection and then you see the pass production. That’s what everybody sees, right? The numbers, the separation, but nobody has really any true idea of all the other stuff he does for us and that’s a tight end. That’s what a tight end does and I’m glad he’s ours.”
LaPorta is in the midst of one of the best rookie tight end seasons in NFL history. Among all tight ends this year, he already ranks fourth in receiving yards (679). That yardage total ranks him ninth ever, and he has a legitimate shot at the NFL record set by Mike Ditka (1,076).
LaPorta is the first Lions player to win the award this year, although several have been nominated nearly every week. The last Lions rookie to win the award was James Houston for his performance against the Bears in Week 17 of last season. Aidan Hutchinson also won it last year, as well—which is a testimate to general manager Brad Holmes’ drafting skills.