Camp Spotlight: Running back Zach Zenner

Posted Aug 15, 2015

Tim Twentyman tracks the performance of running back Zach Zenner during Day 10 of training camp practice.


Position: Running back

Ht/Wt: 5-11, 223

College: South Dakota State

Experience: Rookie

Outlook: Zenner was given a $5,000 bonus to sign with the Lions following the draft after running for 2,000 yards in each of the last three seasons at South Dakota State.

Zach ZennerRB Zach Zenner (Photo: Detroit Lions)

He’s already shown to be a terrific athlete and an instinctive runner. There's some physicality to his game and he finished runs with authority in Thursday’s preseason opening win vs. the Jets.

Zenner rushed 13 times for 55 yards (4.2 average) with a long of 14 yards.

He and George Winn are fighting for that fourth running back spot (along with Desmond Martin) behind Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.

Special teams will be a big factor for whoever wins that fourth spot. Winn is a proven special teams performer. Zenner still has to demonstrate he can be that guy. He played six special teams reps vs. the Jets.

Zenner was impressive as a runner in his preseason debut, and no doubt the Lions will continue to give him the rock in the preseason to really see what he can do.

Practice report: The one area of his game Zenner is working on more than any other is his pass protection. Every day after practice he and rookie fullback Michael Burton work off to the side on it.

The Lions worked a lot on their blitz and blitz protection during Saturday’s practice. Zenner held his own all day.

He also made a nice catch on a 3rd and 9 play right at the first down marker in 7-on-7 drills.

He was targeted on a screen pass in an 11-on-11 drill on a 3rd and 10 play. The play was set up nicely and Zenner was patient out of the backfield and set the screen up nicely. It appeared he would have gotten the first down in live action.

Zenner usually makes the most of the reps he gets in practice.


Jim Caldwell on Zenner:

“He’s fun to watch. You can see he can bang it up in there and he’s got vision and he’s deceptive. You can see him accelerate through a hole with a good forward lean. Has some pop behind him. He’s fun to watch.”