Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta during the game vs. the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.

Lions activate TE Sam LaPorta for playoff matchup with Rams

The Detroit Lions have a key weapon returning for Sunday night’s wild-card playoff matchup with the visiting Los Angeles Rams, announcing standout rookie tight end Sam LaPorta is active.

LaPorta, who suffered a knee injury in last week’s regular-season finale, set an NFL rookie tight end record with 86 receptions. He also scored 10 touchdowns and had 889 receiving yards.

The Rams ruled out safety Jordan Fuller (ankle), who stands second among their tacklers this season.

Los Angeles will have tight end Tyler Higbee, defensive back Duke Shelley and right guard Kevin Dotson active.

The Lions, who will be without receiver Kalif Raymond (knee), tight end James Mitchell (hand) and cornerback Jerry Jacobs (thigh), this week signed cornerback Chase Lucas and tight end Anthony Firsker.

Detroit also brought up defensive lineman Tyson Alualu and fullback Jason Cabinda from the practice squad.

– Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta (87) is carted off the field after an injury during second quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Coach gives Lions TE Sam LaPorta ‘outside shot’ to play

Lions coach Dan Campbell gives rookie tight end Sam LaPorta an “outside shot” to play in Detroit’s wild-card playoff game Sunday night against the Los Angeles Rams.

“LaPorta’s got an outside shot now. We’ll know a lot in 48 hours. He’s got an outside shot,” Campbell said Monday. “It’s very much we’re talking days, not weeks, which is a good thing.”

LaPorta avoided a season-ending left knee injury on Sunday, but his availability for the first round of the playoffs appeared to be in peril when he left the field in the second quarter of the win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Campbell said general manager Brad Holmes has scoured the team’s free agent list to “see if there is someone that will help us,” Campbell said.

Reports late Sunday connected former Eagles and Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz to the Lions. Ertz is unsigned after being released by the Cardinals last month.

“I think we’ll be alright,” Campbell said. “Brad’s got his eyes open. He’s always looking.”

LaPorta broke the NFL rookie tight end record for receptions Sunday with his 82nd catch, also his 10th touchdown of the season, a 2-yard score with 8:06 left in the first quarter.

On the first play after the two-minute warning in the second quarter, LaPorta was split wide, left of the formation and caught a short pass from Jared Goff. Vikings safety Josh Metellus closed quickly on the in-cutting route and tackled LaPorta high. As LaPorta went to the turf, he appeared to reach for his left knee, buckling under the weight of Metellus on his back and to the turf.

He went to the locker room on a cart.

LaPorta ended the regular season with 86 receptions for 889 yards with 10 TD catches.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta (87) catches a pass for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings and sets an NFL record for most catches by a rookie tight end at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Lions’ Sam LaPorta sets TE rookie record for catches

Detroit Lions rookie tight end Sam LaPorta set an NFL record when he reeled in a touchdown reception in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.

LaPorta’s 2-yard catch served as his 82nd reception of the season, eclipsing a tie with Keith Jackson (81 in 1988) for the most grabs by a rookie tight end.

His 10th touchdown catch of the season moved him into a tie with Rob Gronkowski (10 in 2010) for second place among rookie tight ends, leaving him behind only Hall of Fame member Mike Ditka (12 in 1961).

LaPorta, who turns 23 on Friday, was selected by the Lions in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Iowa.

–Field Level Media