In the moment, Lions fans feared the worst and any clips that surfaced made it well-founded. Tight end Sam LaPorta seemed to have suffered a major left leg/knee injury last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, casting his availability for the playoffs (or perhaps longer) into doubt.
An MRI revealed LaPorta had "only" suffered a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise. Head coach Dan Campbell started the week on Monday by saying the rookie tight end had an "outside shot" to play against the Rams in the Wild Card Round, with more to be known in 48 hours. Then the Lions' head coach was a little more optimistic after LaPorta participated in a walkthrough on Wednesday. Ultimately, Friday and the official injury report will be the final indication on LaPorta's status and Campbell noted that.
LaPorta was officially listed as not participating in Thursday's practice. But after practice, he said he did some work off to the side (i.e. blocking drills) and ran some routes with quarterback Jared Goff after practice.
Sam LaPorta is 'optimistic' he can play Sunday night against the Rams
LaPorta talked about his injury further after Thursday's practice, starting with the sentiment he knows was shared by everyone when his left foot got stuck in the Ford Field turf and his knee bent the way it did. He's "optimistic" he'll be able to play against the Rams.
"It was certainly a little scary when it first happened. I think everyone has probably seen a picture of it. There was definitely a sigh of relief when I found out structurally everything was good."
"Starting to feel better day by day," LaPorta said after working off to the side of practice and running routes after practice. "See where it takes me tomorrow. Really just taking it a day at a time. When it first happened, it didn't feel great, and I feel like I've started to bounce back quickly, and we'll see."
LaPorta was wearing a brace on Thursday. He said if he plays on Sunday night he'll probably be sporting the brace to prevent something bad from happening and his knee from hyperextending further.
Expect the Lions to list LaPorta as questionable on Friday, then very likely take determining if he'll play right up to when inactives have to be declared for Sunday night's game. That it's even a conversation that he could play against the Rams is quite a positive turn from four days ago.