‘Optimistic’ Lions TE Sam LaPorta takes live practice reps Thursday

Detroit’s second-leading receiver this season sparked optimism he can play through a knee injury in Sunday’s playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Sam LaPorta said he took live reps Thursday after participating in the Lions’ walkthrough practice on Wednesday, a signal the record-setting rookie tight end continues to improve and progress toward taking the field in the wild-card matchup.

Head coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday a decision on LaPorta’s status for the wild-card game Sunday night would be made Friday at the earliest.

“I don’t foresee us knowing anything or feeling like we have a real good picture until Friday afternoon,” Campbell said. “But he’s improving.”

Wide receiver Jameson Williams (ankle) continues to participate and could have his injury designation removed before the game.

On Monday, Campbell gave LaPorta an “outside shot” to play this week. He avoided a season-ending knee injury, but his availability for the first round of the playoffs appeared to be in peril when he left the field in the second quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings.

LaPorta broke the NFL rookie tight end record for receptions Sunday with his 82nd catch, also his 10th touchdown of the season, a 2-yard score with 8:06 left in the first quarter.

LaPorta ended the regular season with 86 receptions for 889 yards and 10 TD catches. He was second on the team in catches and yards to Amon-Ra St. Brown, who also caught 10 touchdowns and tallied 119 receptions for 1,515 yards in the regular season.