Now that the bye week is in the rearview, it's time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get back to business. It's been an incredible start to the season, but the work only gets harder now that expectations have shifted for the team.
Tampa Bay was expected to tank for a top draft pick but is now 3-1 and in control of the NFC South after the first five weeks of the season. It's been an incredible turnaround from how things looked in the offseason, but part of what has made the ride so far as fun as it's been is the defying of low expectations.
Now the Bucs have expectations and can't afford to backslide now that they're on the right path. A massive test awaits on Sunday, when the Detroit Lions come to town for the creamsicle throwback game.
It's a matchup of unlikely first-place teams and will be a measuring stick game to see just how far along the Bucs really are. Tampa Bay has some injury questions heading into Sunday's game, but it turns out it's not alone in that department.
Bucs might have caught a huge break with latest Lions injury updated
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, there's growing concern about Sam LaPorta's availability for Sunday's game. The Lions tight end reportedly suffered a calf injury and did not practice on Thursday.
There's still plenty of time between now and Sunday afternoon -- the late window, no less -- but a soft tissue injury this late in the week never bodes well.
LaPorta has been absolutely phenomenal for Detroit so far this year, and heading into Week 6 is ranked as the best tight end in the league. Through his first five games, LaPorta leads the NFL in yards and is tied with the likes of Travis Kelce and George Kittle for the most touchdowns by a tight end.
That's some pretty incredible company for the rookie to keep.
In a highly touted tight end class, LaPorta was mid-tier in most expert projections but was the second player at his position off the board. The result has been a dark horse Rookie of the Year start to his season, which is why not having to play against him on Sunday would be a lucky break for the Bucs.