The Detroit Lions and fans held their collective breath in Week 18 when Sam LaPorta appeared to go down with a major left knee injury. His ability to play in the playoffs was an obvious question.
Fortunately, LaPorta didn't suffer a season-ending injury, and was able to recover during the week. Head coach Dan Campbell credited the "voodoo magic" of the Lions' training staff, while also being sure to note LaPorta's sheer toughness.
LaPorta had a critical touchdown on 4th-and-1 in the second quarter against the Rams, managing to get his feet down in a tight space to help the Lions to a 21-10 lead.
Dan Campbell impressed by Sam LaPorta, again
It's safe to say LaPorta has impressed the Lions since his arrival at rookie minicamp, with no drop-off all the way along.
The touchdown against the Rams wasn't the only thing that proved LaPorta's toughness. On the first play of the game, he made a critical seal block on a run by David Montgomery. The way he was able to be a factor as a blocker showed something to his teammates right off the bat, and it didn't subside.
And Campbell, who couldn't hide it on Wednesday (via Ben Raven of MLive).
"I was impressed. He helped us,” Campbell said. “He was not 100%. But he helped us win that game. He did exactly what we needed him to do for that game. And he’s coming along. He’s gotten better. He feels better than he did this time last week. That’s encouraging. And so I just, I go back to this, I think that’s -- for a young player that doesn’t know what this is and ‘I’m not a 100%,’ to be able to -- He knew he could get this done and he could help us. I think that goes a long way."
It seems LaPorta has made it through the worst of his injury, which could set him up for an even bigger impact in the weeks ahead. That's good news for the Lions, who need him as a driving force for the offense.