Sam LaPorta active for Lions' wild-card game vs. Rams after Week 18 knee injury

LaPorta made a surprise return to practice on Thursday

Sam LaPorta will return to the Detroit Lions' lineup for Sunday's wild-card game against the Los Angeles Rams.

The rookie tight end left Week 18 with a knee injury that looked serious, but was reportedly a bone bruise and hyperextended knee, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. LaPorta was a surprise participant at Thursday's practice and said he was "optimistic" about playing against the Rams.

The optimism increased as the week went on, and according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, LaPorta will wear a brace on his left knee for the rest of this season.

“I‘ll probably play with the knee brace as a precautionary thing, just to make sure that hyperextension doesn’t happen again, in the rare case the cleat gets caught in the turf again and something bad were to happen,” LaPorta said. “I think you would see me with the knee brace out there, but I’m not sure how much it would inhibit me or practically keep it from happening again.”

LaPorta developed into a key offensive weapon for Jared Goff this season and finished with 86 catches, 889 yards, and 10 touchdowns. That output earned him Pro Bowl honors this week.