Zenner's strong finish to the 2018 season likely strengthened his position with the Lions, Mike O'Hara of the team's official site reports. This is an understatement considering Zenner turned out to be everything head coach Matt Patricia could really ask for in a backup running back -- an effective runner (4.8 YPC on 55 attempts) whose ability on special teams can allow for more roster flexibility on gamedays. The question now is where Zenner will sign this offseason once he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March. Given the promise he showed down the stretch, it's possible Zenner will have a number of suitors for his services.
Zenner rushed for 93 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries, adding a 30-yard reception during Sunday's 31-0 win against the Packers. Detroit hasn't exactly handed the keys over to Zenner since Kerryon Johnson (knee) fell victim to injury Week 11 against the Panthers. In six games since, LeGarrette Blount has been entrusted with 76 carries to Zenner's 54. Zenner has been significantly more productive with those opportunities, however, averaging an impressive 4.7 yards per carry during that span compared to Blount's average of 3.1 yards per rush. The fourth-year back has given Detroit's front office something to ponder with his contract expiring over the offseason. Having compiled 192 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his three appearances with 10-plus carries this season, Zenner has proven himself to be a capable backup option behind the 21-year-old Johnson.
Zenner rushed eight times for 45 yards and added two catches for 22 yards on three targets in Sunday's 27-9 loss to Minnesota. Zenner was easily Detroit's best option on the ground, as LeGarrette Blount (calf) was held to 29 yards on 11 carries. It's a bit puzzling why a beat-up Blount got more work than Zenner, but odd coaching decisions are nothing new to Lions fans. Zenner should push for double-digit touches against the Packers in Week 17.
With Kerryon Johnson (knee) on injured reserve and LeGarrette Blount (calf) listed as questionable, Zenner and Theo Riddick are the Lions' only healthy running backs heading into Sunday's game against Minnesota, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com reports. Zenner already appeared to usurp Blount for the lead role during last week's 14-13 loss at Buffalo, getting the start and posting a 10-45-1 rushing line while the 32-year-old produced just nine yards on seven carries. Of course, Riddick contributed 47 yards on eight carries and nine yards on two receptions, so a timeshare will likely still be in the works even if Blount doesn't play Sunday. The prospect of sharing with one player instead of two obviously boosts Zenner's fantasy outlook, but there's no guarantee it comes to fruition and also no guarantee the injury-riddled Lions have any success against a tough Minnesota defense.
Zenner could retain a steady role on offense for the Lions' final two games of the season after Kerryon Johnson (knee) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. With the rookie second-round pick officially out of the picture, Zenner should remain at the front of a backfield committee over the final two weeks of the regular season. He leads the Lions with 22 carries over the past two games, most recently getting the starting nod over LeGarrette Blount in Sunday's 14-13 loss to the Bills. A Week 16 matchup with the Vikings doesn't look too appealing, though Zenner could push for an even larger share of the workload after Blount fell flat on his face (19 carries for 42 yards) the past two games. Either way, Theo Riddick will continue to handle passing downs in a struggling, injury-plagued offense.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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