“LaPorta will run around today,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said before Friday’s practice. “So he’s feeling better.”
When asked if LaPorta will end up playing on Sunday, Campbell gave the reporter a long ‘you know I’m not going to answer that’ smile, and said, “I’ll revert back to what I said two days ago: we’ll know much, much more after today’s practice. And then entirely what does it look like tomorrow when he wakes up? I know this, he’s gotten better every day, every day. So we’re going to have him out there, take some practice reps, and see where it goes.”
Evidence of Sam LaPorta practicing. pic.twitter.com/MRyHCt6bJy— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) January 12, 2024
After Thursday’s practice, LaPorta said he was “optimistic” about his chance of playing this week. Though he did not officially practice with the team on Thursday, he did get post-practice individual work and ran some routes with quarterback Jared Goff.
“Starting to feel better day by day, and see where it takes me tomorrow,” LaPorta said Thursday. “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.”
If LaPorta plays, he’ll be sporting a new brace on his leg. The rookie tight end has been adjusting to using it all week, but thinks it will provide the stability needed to feel good about not re-injuring the knee.
“I’ll probably play with the knee brace as a precautionary thing, just to make sure that hyperextension doesn’t happen again, in the rare case the cleat gets caught in the turf again and something bad were to happen. I think you would see me with the knee brace out there, but I’m not sure how much it would inhibit me.”
If LaPorta does not end up playing, the Lions will likely lean on Brock Wright as their top tight end, but they may need to call in for some reinforcement. Their third tight end, James Mitchell, is dealing with a hand injury and did not appear to practice on Friday. They could promote Anthony Firkser from the practice squad.