It certainly didn't look good, and what came immediately after did nothing to quell the concern. Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta may have avoided the worst-case scenario though, i.e. a torn ACL, etc. that would impact his availability looking toward next season.
After the game on Sunday Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported an MRI showed LaPorta has a hyperextended left knee and a bone bruise. In his postgame press conference head coach Dan Campbell had a blunt sentiment along the same "it could have been way worse" line.
"The best way I can put it is it’s probably not as bad as it looked, but it’s not good news,” Campbell said. “We’ll know more tomorrow, but I know it looked awful, and it’s not as bad as it looked. But it doesn’t mean it looks good in the immediate here to have him for a game.”
LaPorta is practically certain to miss the Lions' Wild Card Round game against the Rams. If the Lions advance, him playing in the Divisional Round will become a more nuanced topic.
Of course at this time of the year there aren't many, if any, good outside options to replace LaPorta. Not that he's really replaceable anyway, after a historic rookie season. But the Lions aren't all that deep at tight end, with Brock Wright missing the last three games with a hip injury, so adding someone could be on the radar.
Assuming LaPorta will miss at least one playoff game, here are a few options the Lions could turn to to replace him.
Update, Jan. 8, 3:40 p.m. ET: Dan Campbell said LaPorta has an "outside chance" to play Sunday night against the Rams, while adding an outside addition at tight end is not expected.
But even with the general optimism on LaPorta, things can change quickly....