Dan Campbell’s decision to play the Lions’ starters in their Week 18 clash with the Vikings — a game with precious few playoff implications — raised more than a few eyebrows.

Sam LaPorta’s injury served as an example of why. Detroit’s Pro Bowl tight end was forced to exit Sunday’s clash after suffering a knee injury in teh first half.

LaPorta, a rookie, has emerged as one of Jared Goff’s top targets in 2023. He figured to play a significant role on a Lions squad hoping to make a push toward the Super Bowl.

Now, his status going forward is shrouded in mystery.

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Here’s what you need to know about LaPorta’s latest ailment.

Sam LaPorta injury update

LaPorta crumbled to the turf after reeling in a pass from Goff, appearing to have gotten his leg caught in the grass as he was brought down partway through the second quarter.

Ouch. Damn it. Love me some LaPorta. Hope he’s ok.pic.twitter.com/u8CNmsujes

His left knee looked to have buckled and hyperextended on the play. And he clearly was in discomfort as he writhed on the ground in the immediate aftermath of his injury.

LaPorta eventually walked off the field on his own accord. He was soon transported to the locker room via medical cart and eventually ruled out for the rest of the game.

Lions TE Sam LaPorta heads to the locker room on the cart. Questionable to return with a knee injury. pic.twitter.com/qh21gIYTOW

Coach Dan Campbell told reporters after the game that LaPorta’s injury “isn’t as bad as it looked.” He still could miss time, but Campbell wasn’t ready to rule him out as of Monday after referring to the malady as one of the “day-to-day” variety.

LaPorta still could miss time, most immediately next week’s playoff opener. But there is an “outside chance” that he could play in this one.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport later reported the tight end suffered a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise.

#Lions Pro Bowl TE Sam LaPorta suffered a hyperextended knee and a bone bruise, source said after the MRI. He’s likely to miss some time, but as coach Dan Campbell said, not as bad as it could’ve been.

Earlier in the game, LaPorta set a new franchise record with his 84th reception of the season, one more than Brandon Pettigrew’s previous mark for a Lions tight end. He caught two more before he got hurt, putting him at 86 catches for the regular season.

Why the Lions are playing their starters vs. Vikings

With the Lions all but locked into the No. 3 seed — Detroit would need the Cowboys to lose to the Commanders and the Eagles to lose to the Giants to jump to No. 2 — it came as a bit of a surprise when Campbell told reporters his plans to play his starters in Week 18.

“We’re gonna use our full arsenal and go win this game,” Campbell said earlier in the week. “That’s the objective here.”

It seems Detroit, knowing it will play a game on wild-card weekend, wanted to enter the postseason on a high. A matchup with Minnesota, which is all but eliminated from postseason contention, could have certainly offered the Lions an opportunity for a tune-up before the Big Dance.

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Given the small margins between winning and losing the postseason, perhaps that was appealing to Campbell and Co.

It’s an imperfect science, admittedly. But it seems Detroit’s staff was all-in on Campbell’s move.

“We’ve got such a robust coaching staff that – with a wide variety of opinions on how we should proceed in a scenario like this,” offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said. “So, I’m trusting. I’m trusting the powers that be and that have gone through this before (to decide) what the best course of action is to get us ready, (and) not only to win the game this week, but also the future weeks, as well.”

It will be interesting to see if such a viewpoint changes in light of LaPorta’s potential absence.

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Kay Adams