Sam LaPorta sees ways he can improve after record-setting rookie season

After a record-setting rookie season, Lions' tight end Sam LaPorta sees some finer details he can improve on.
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Hopes were high for Sam LaPorta as a rookie, then he exceeded them. He set every meaningful single-season record for a Detroit Lions' tight end (86 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns), and set the NFL record for receptions by a rookie tight end with those 86 grabs.

The offseason, if a week or two sooner than he would have liked, was welcome for LaPorta. He battled ankle and knee injuries last season, the latter of which could have been a lot worse and kept him out of the playoffs.

Healthy, refreshed and ready to get back to work, LaPorta talked to reporters after Thursday's OTA practice. As expected, he's not resting on any laurels from his rookie season after stopping to "smell the roses a little bit" (h/t to 97.1 The Ticket).

"But it’s time to get back to work," LaPorta said.
"It was really nice to check out after the season, let the body refresh, recoup a little bit. "I’m ready to bounce back and have another great year, hopefully."

Sam LaPorta sees little ways he can improve his game

LaPorta said he isn't putting pressure on himself to top his rookie season. But with a year of experience now, via Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, he does see ways he can refine his game as a blocker and a pass catcher.

"I’m trying to throw my hands, play a little bit lower in the run game," he said. "And then in the receiving game, trying not to give so many tells in my routes, crossing over, late hands catching the ball. Just a few things."

For whatever it's worth, LaPorta's Pro Football Focus blocking grades (59.9 pass blocking; 53.9 run blocking) were barely in the top-50 among tight ends last season. By comparison, he had the fourth-best receiving grade at the position (81.8). But a closer look at his game log shows a few bad games hurting his season-long grades, particularly as a pass blocker. So while there is some improvement to be done, being more consistent can be spotlighted.

In any case, great players don't rest on what they've done and always hunt for ways they can be better. Unequivocally calling LaPorta great may feel like a stretch right now, but he's clearly focused on the small margins for improvement that can get him there.


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