Lions rookie minicamp observations: Second-round pick Sam LaPorta steals the show

Detroit News

Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Saturday’s rookie minicamp practice, the only day of the three open to the media.

▶ The star of the day, far and away, was tight end Sam LaPorta. Detroit’s second-round draft pick was essentially uncoverable running routes across the middle of the field in seven-on-seven work, showing fluid movement skills off the line and at the top of his routes to consistently gain separation.

In individual work with undrafted rookie quarterback Adrian Martinez, LaPorta showed good hands, making catches away from his frame on several hard-thrown balls. And the tight end also showed a little sizzle toward the end of practice, easily winning several one-on-one space drills, including a nasty juke that got the best of former Iowa teammate Jack Campbell.

The cherry on top was LaPorta turning around as he ran past Campbell, throwing up a peace sign in a playful taunt. Amon-Ra St. Brown would be proud.

▶ Obviously an abundance of caution is going to be exercised during this time of year, but the injury bug was present and accounted for on Saturday. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs (ankle), as well as defensive backs Brian Branch and Steven Gilmore, were held out of the session.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Brodric Martin suffered a left arm injury that required attention from the trainer and a brace before returning to the field. Seventh-round receiver Antoine Green also suffered a late lower-body injury and didn’t return. And of course, quarterback Hendon Hooker, who is rehabbing a surgically repaired ACL, was a non-participant.

▶ Hooker was on the field, doing some light work on the side, most notably taking mental reps while standing directly behind Martinez every team period. It will probably be months before Hooker is cleared for full physical activity, but he’s doing what he can to stay sharp on the mental aspect of his position.

▶ Fifth-round pick Colby Sorsdal, who exclusively played right tackle throughout his college career, is making to the switch to the interior. He’s listed as a guard on the roster and played right guard most, if not all, of this practice.

▶ The rest of the starting offensive line consisted of second-year players Obinna Eze at left tackle and Darrin Paulo at left guard and undrafted rookies Brad Cecil and Ryan Swoboda at center and right tackle, respectively.

▶ Campbell handled the middle linebacking responsibilities and seemed to be ahead of the curve with his positioning and communication, quickly reacting to pre-snap motions and shifts.

▶ As might be expected after only two days of practice, Martinez was sluggish with his processing and decision-making at quarterback, often holding on to the ball far too long before getting rid of it.

▶ The Lions brought in 10 players for tryouts. That group consisted of safety Chris Bacon (Bowling Green), safety Xavier Bell (Portland State), cornerback Da’Meak Brandon (Limestone), wide receiver Dylan Drummond (Eastern Michigan), defensive lineman Jacorey Johns (Wake Forest), defensive lineman Wyatt Ray (Boston College), kicker John Parker Romo (Virginia Tech), wide receiver Darrius Shepherd (North Dakota State), defensive lineman Jullian Taylor (Temple) and cornerback David Vereen (Newberry).

▶ From that group, Drummond stood out and Brandon flashed. Based on the admittedly small, one-day sample size, it wouldn’t surprise me if Drummond gets signed to the offseason roster for an extended look. He showed impressive hands, snatching a couple balls well outside of his frame, and he was a problem in the one-on-one work in space.

Brandon, who was one of the smaller players on the field, showed fluidity in his movements and impressively broke up a pass intended for 6-foot-4 receiver Chad Cota.

▶ There’s no pads and limited contact, but it was easy to like the vision and burst running back Mohamed Ibrahim showed during an early full-team segment. He’s known for his power, not his speed, but he demonstrated some juice when he stuck his foot in the ground and hit a hole.

He wasn’t nearly as dynamic with his route running, even when working against air. In team portions, he was often blanketed by a linebacker, including one snap where he was swallowed up by Campbell and another where undrafted rookie Trevor Nowaske broke up a pass.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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