Rookie RB Zenner takes over spotlight in Lions backfield
Last week, Lions running back Zach Zenner rushed for 55 yards on 13 carries. His average of 4.2 yards per carry would have been more impressive had fellow rookie Ameer Abdullah not doubled it (9.6), thanks to a long carry of 45 yards.
However, on Thursday night -- with veteran Joique Bell still on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list -- Zenner took center stage in the Lions backfield. The undrafted rookie out of South Dakota State slashed the Washington Redskins defense for 81 total yards on four carries and five catches, including a 5-yard touchdown reception with 1:43 remaining in the third quarter and a long gain of 36 yards.
His preseason production on offense will only get him so far, though. Bell is a far more experienced back and the Lions have much more invested in Abdullah, since he is a second-round pick. To earn a roster spot, Zenner must also stand out on special teams.
Zenner's attention to detail should help him do that.
"I didn’t expect to come in, as an undrafted guy, and start getting the ball 30 times a game," Zenner said, per ESPN's Michael Rothstein. "That’s just not how the NFL works. I expected that.
"I was prepared to make an impact on special teams and that’s what I’ve been preparing to do."
This is a new role for Zenner, who eclipsed 2,000 rushing yards in each of his final three seasons in college.
Zenner's hype is building, as fans are slowly figuring out what the 5-foot-11, 222-pound back brings to the table.