You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and Lions rookie tight end Sam LaPorta has made a strong one a rookie minicamp this weekend.
There was an ad campaign back in the day, it’s hard to remember the product…maybe it was a deodorant or something, where the punch line was “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” For Detroit Lions rookies, like second-round draft pick tight end Sam LaPorta, that opportunity to make a first impression came this weekend at rookie minicamp.
LaPorta enters the next level as Iowa’s all-time leader in receptions by a tight end, for a school that has sent Dallas Clark, George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson and others on to the NFL at the position. The Lions made him the second tight end off the board in last month’s draft, at pick No. 34 overall.
No offense meant to Brock Wright, Shane Zylstra and even the promising unknown of second-year man James Mitchell, but the Lions tight end depth chart needed a talent injection. The draft was likely going to bring one fairly early, whether it was LaPorta or someone else.
Sam LaPorta wastes no time asserting himself as the Detroit Lions’ best tight end
LaPorta has very productive and lined almost equally between in line or out wide or in the slot in Iowa’s anemic, unimaginitive offense run by the head coach’s son. So what can Lions’ offensive coordinator Ben Johnson do with him?
After that impressive showing on Saturday, via Kyle Meinke of MLive, LaPorta acknowledged the learning curve he still has in front of him. Johnson, as the Lions’ former tight ends coach, is taking a hand-on approach with the rookie. It’s worth noting head coach Dan Campbell is a former tight end.
"They demand a lot,” LaPorta said. “Very small details. I’m learning all the real intricate details of the system right now. Of course, I’ve messed them up a couple of times already. You probably heard them yelling at me. Those details are really what separates you apart in the National Football League. So, they were great last year, and I hope I can contribute a lot this year on offense.”"
LaPorta will have to lock down the deeper intricacies of his position to be at the top of the depth chart come Week 1, and in fantasy football terms history is against him having a noteworthy rookie season as a tight end. But his showing at rookie minicamp on Saturday was a strong first impression, and that can never be taken back as he tries to immediately assert himself as the Lions’ No. 1 tight end.