Detroit Lions Rookie SAM LAPORTA IMPRSSIVE At Lions Rookie Minicamp

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In addition to the eight players selected as part of the 2023 Draft class, the Lions also had their 15 undrafted free agents on the field, 10 players trying out for a spot on the roster, and three 2022 rookies who qualified to attend based on lack of playing time last season—including OL Obinna Eze, OL Darrin Paulo, and TE Derrick Deese Jr.

Unfortunately, there were four players unable to practice due to injuries, with the only significant injury being to quarterback Hendon Hooker, who is recovering from ACL surgery. Jahmyr Gibbs was nursing an ankle injury, Branch was sitting out after practicing on Friday, and UDFA Steven Gilmore was working off to the side with trainers. All three injuries were considered minor as the team is being cautious with their investments.

Let’s take a closer look at how the Lions drafted rookies did at Saturday’s minicamp, as well as a few other players who stood out.

RB Jahmyr Gibbs
When asked about the ankle injury that was keeping him off the field, Gibbs responded, “I’m straight, I’m good,” then followed that up by confirming that the Lions were keeping him out as a precautionary measure.

Gibbs ended up spending most of practice on the side making observations, then told the media following practice that his current focus is to “learn the playbook, take mental reps. I think the game is more mental than physical. That’ll be good for me.”

Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go for OTAs in two weeks.

LB Jack Campbell
Campbell lined up at the MIKE and for the most part, he looked solid and athletic, especially in team drills. There are still several nuances about the position that linebacker coach Kelvin Sheppard needed to point out, but to Campbell’s credit, he made those adaptations quickly.

The clip below is an example of Campbell’s ability to make corrections. In the rep prior to this one, Campbell dropped back and to his left, but when he opened his hips, he didn’t properly position his feet in order to reach his coverage target. Sheppard showed him a minor tweak, and Campbell put it into practice.

“Shep’s a great coach,” Campbell said after practice. “When he steps on the field, there’s nothing more important to him than performing at the highest level. And I like that kind of coaching style. He’ll get into you when he needs to get into you, and just to bring out the best in you, because he loves you as a player. For me, (I) try to take the message of what he is trying to say, and then apply it, and not make the same mistake twice. So, he’s a fantastic coach and these past two days have been awesome.”

Campbell moves very well for a player his size, showing an impressive downhill burst that featured his burst and aggressiveness. He showed above-average dip and bend when blitzing, as well as power when engaging blocks. As a defensive leader, he was vocal and directed traffic well.

TE Sam LaPorta
Sam LaPorta was easily the best player on the field at Saturday’s practice. He ran precise routes, showed soft hands, and (likely) caught more passes than any other player on the field. When he puts his foot in the ground and cut, there is no wasted movement and he is often leaving the defender in a trail position. Some of his crossing routes were simply uncoverable for any of the defenders on the field.

The show-stealing moment of the day was during a special teams drill when offensive and defensive players went one-on-one. In the drill, there was an “alley” for the offensive player to run down and the defender was asked to get hands on him to simulate a tackle (no pads on Saturday, so tackling was not permitted).

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