NFL Rumors: Detroit Lions Tight End Sam LaPorta Expected Back For Wildcard Round

The Detroit Lions should have their most promising rookie in tow for their first home postseason game since 1992. According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, breakout tight end Sam LaPorta intends to take the field for today's game against the Los Angeles Rams.

LaPorta injured his knee during the Lions' Week 18 30-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings. He played 23 offensive snaps, less than half his typical workload, hauling in five receptions for 29 yards and one touchdown. The Lions played the majority of their starters, including quarterback Jared Goff and All-Pro wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, for the whole game.

LaPorta, the 34th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, has been a revelation for the Lions as a rookie, nabbing 86 receptions for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns over 17 appearances. The rare rookie tight end to earn a Pro Bowl selection, LaPorta is a big reason why the Lions offense finished fifth in the league with 27.1 points per game.

LaPorta's return will be key for what is shaping up to be a monumental showdown between the Rams and Lions later tonight. Not only are the Lions searching for their first playoff win since beating the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round of the 1991 postseason, but they're facing their former franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford. 

The Lions and Rams executed a dramatic swap of quarterbacks ahead of the 2021 season, exchanging Stafford for Goff and multiple first-round picks. The Rams won Super Bowl LVI that very season, but the Lions have climbed all the way from a 5-11 record in 2020 to consecutive winning seasons and top-five finishes in points scored over the past two years. Sunday's game, and the Lions' fortunes this postseason, could go a long way toward deciding how that fateful transaction is remembered.

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