In the moment last Sunday, it seemed like Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta suffered a major knee injury that could impact his availability looking toward next season. After the game, head coach Dan Campbell acknowledged it was not as bad as it looked but was "not good news." An MRI revealed a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise.
During his press conference on Monday, Campbell said LaPorta had an outside shot to play against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, adding that more would be known in 48 hours. That the Lions not add a tight end this week reflects some optimism the rookie star will be able to suit up.
The Lions started their practice week on Wednesday, of course 48 hours since Campbell spoke to reporters. During a walkthrough on Wednesday, according to Campbell, LaPorta was participating.
"He’s improving,” Campbell said. “He was out there at walkthrough. I don’t foresee us knowing anything or feeling like we have a really good picture until probably Friday afternoon. But everyday we’re going to do more with him. He’s improving.”
Sam LaPorta injury update: Will he play on Sunday night vs. Rams?
As for where LaPorta will have to be physically to play against the Rams, Campbell was succinct.
"If we don’t feel like he can help us, then there’s no need having him,” Campbell said.
If LaPorta can't go on Sunday night, a now healthy Brock Wright, James Mitchell and presumably Anthony Firkser would be the Lions' tight ends against the Rams.
LaPorta's designation on Friday afternoon's injury report will ultimate tell the tale. It feels unlikely he'll be completely ruled out based on Campbell's words, and doubtful may as well be out. If he's listed as questionable, there's naturally a better chance he plays and it may come down to how he looks in a pre-game workout.
Even tentatively optimistic, Campbell's updates on LaPorta so far this week are definitely better than absolute declarations he'll be out. In roughly another 48 hours we'll know more officially about his chances to play on Sunday night, with practice reports to go on until then.