If you were to pick a Detroit Lions' rookie who was expected to an impression during the first few days of training camp, tight end Sam LaPorta would be high on the list--if not atop the list. He was a standout at OTAs, and has carried that into camp early on. He is, quite simply, taking his rightful place as the team's No. 1 tight end after mostly working with the backups during OTAs. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson confirmed that during his press conference before practice on Wednesday morning.
If LaPorta wasn't working with the Lions' first-team offense right now, at least in part if not exclusively, it would be a surprise. But it's nice to know he has moved into getting that work, and the coaches like where's at in his early development. There's no one else on the depth chart, pure talent-wise, who should usurp him.
But there's another rookie on the offensive side of the ball for the Lions who is garnering some attention right now.
Another Lions rookie is earning prominent reps at training camp too
Johnson also mentioned wide receiver Antoine Green, the Lions' final pick in April's draft out of North Carolina, as someone who has earned more prominent (or "higher-team") reps early in camp.
Green has some notable additional competition for a roster spot after the Lions traded for Denzel Mims. But Jameson Williams' six-game suspension to start the season opens up an opportunity for someone, and there's nothing (or no one?) to necessarily stop Green from earning a prominent early season role. And maybe it's a role he'll be able to hang onto even after Williams is eligible to play.
Preseason games should bring a great opportunity for Green to shine, since he'll surely play plenty, and strongly make his case for a spot on the 53-man roster. But he has apparently wasted no time to start building equity with the coaching staff, and that Johnson named him as worthy of more significant practice reps is absolutely meaningful.