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LaPorta leaning on teammates as he looks to build on rookie season success

It wasn't until a couple weeks after the season ended and he allowed his body to heal a bit when he was on a beach in San Diego with his fiancé that Sam LaPorta let himself reflect on what was one of the best rookie seasons for a tight end in NFL history.

"We were just going over the season, how long it was, what it takes emotionally from both individuals," LaPorta said of that day. "We definitely stopped and smelled the roses a little bit, but it's time to get back to work."

LaPorta finished last season with 86 receptions, 889 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, all franchise records for a tight end. His receptions were the most by a rookie tight end in league history and his touchdowns tied for second and his yards the fourth most.

He was just the second rookie in NFL history to produce a season with 85-plus receptions, 850-plus receiving yards and 10-plus touchdowns.

Heading into his second season, LaPorta is already considered one of top tight ends in the league and one of the most important players in a Detroit Lions offense filled with weapons. So how does LaPorta avoid the sophomore slump?

"I know what it takes to compete and really thrive at this level," he said. "I've been there, I've done it, I know what it takes, and we have guys around the building I can really lean on that have had success in the past.

"You know, Amon-Ra St. Brown, 'Hey, how did you bounce back after a great year year after year after year?' Jared (Goff), (Penei) Sewell, Deck (Taylor Decker), Frank (Ragnow) go down the list. I have a lot of resources in the organization that I can ask those types of questions to."

LaPorta has enjoyed a real offseason to heal up his body and have an opportunity to just focus on football. He said it's been much different this spring coming back with the continuity they have on offense and a year under his belt. He admitted this time last year his head was spinning a bit.

He was still able to have the rookie season he did, which should leave Lions fans excited for what could be in store for LaPorta in Year 2 of this Lions' offense that loves throwing to tight ends. Only Kansas City has produced more touchdowns from the tight end position (24) than the 23 Detroit has since the start of the 2022 season.

LaPorta feels great and has worked hard this offseason improving the blocking portion of his game, trying to throw his hands and play lower in the run game. He also worked on eliminating route tells and using late hands to catch the football.

View photos from Day 5 of Detroit Lions OTA practice on Thursday, May 30, 2024 in Allen Park, Mich.

When he went to St. Brown, Goff and others about how to stay consistent in this league year after year, LaPorta said he got some great advice.

"Don't put too much pressure on yourself but know you have to have a certain sense of urgency to get better a little bit every day," he said. "This is the type of stuff that transitions into training camp then the preseason and then the games that actually matter.

"You may see us running around out here without pads on and just our helmets but it's another work day for us and another banked rep. You see us getting it after practice, you see us doing it in individual and into groups and in a team setting. We just take everything very serious and know it's going to translate at some point."

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