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Rookie LaPorta working to build trust & chemistry with Lions QBs

It seems like every day there is a Detroit Lions open OTA or minicamp practice where rookie tight end Sam LaPorta makes a play. The Lions' second-round pick out of Iowa has been a good story so far this spring for a Lions' offense that ranked No. 4 in total offense in 2022. The rookie seems to be fitting right into Ben Johnson's scheme in Detroit and has shown a knack for gaining separation and making tough catches throughout the spring workouts.

But talking to LaPorta Monday after Detroit's final open OTA practice, he said when he watches the tape, he doesn't see the playmaking. When he watches the tape, he sees the mistakes he has to get better at.

"I see little mistakes all over the field," LaPorta told "Things that I can just get better at. It's a process and we're trying to speed up that process as much as possible."

View photos from Day 7 of Detroit Lions OTA practice on Monday, June 12, 2023 in Allen Park, Mich.

LaPorta (6-3, 245) had back-to-back 50-plus catch, 600-yard receiving seasons at Iowa and was one of the best tight ends in a 2023 draft class that was arguably one of the best tight end groups in a decade.

Tight ends coach Steve Heiden said the goal this spring has been to put LaPorta into as many different positions and situations they could to help him adjust to the speed and strength of the NFL game.

"Learning on the grass is the best way to go about it," Heiden said. "Throw him out there. Feet to the fire. Then let's go learn."

Heiden said LaPorta's progression this spring has been really good.

"That's one of the things you don't know when you draft a young kid is what are his instincts like when you get him on the grass?" he said. "I think we've all been pleasantly surprised with what we've seen from Sam so far."

LaPorta has been wise to stick to quarterbacks Jared Goff and Nate Sudfeld this spring. No player knows the offense better than the quarterback, and LaPorta credits that closeness with Goff and Sudfeld and their openness to take him under their wing, as helping with his early development.

"It's really cool that guys like Jared are kind of taking me under their wing," LaPorta said. "Nate as well. I'm trying to get as many reps as possible with those quarterbacks, building that trust and building that connection and like I said trying to speed up that process as much as possible."

It's pretty easy to notice the chemistry Goff and LaPorta already have in this offense pretty early in LaPorta's tenure.

"He's done a great job. He really has," Goff said of LaPorta. "Gets himself open. Able to separate, has great hands, is smart, is learning. Making rookie mistakes still but is getting a lot better and you don't really see him make the same mistake twice which is encouraging but yeah, he's done a hell of a job."

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