Zenner is questionable to return to Thursday's preseason game against the Browns due to a back injury, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com reports.
Zenner is firmly on the roster bubble along with fellow Lions running backs Ameer Abdullah and Dwayne Washington (undisclosed). Through three exhibitions, Zenner boasted a dismal 17 yards on eight carries (2.1 per) and one 11-yard catch. Before picking up the injury Thursday, he didn't help his cause, taking one rush for minus-one yard and failing to haul in his only target. With perhaps one opening on the line, he'll play the waiting game until Saturday's 4:00 p.m. ET cut-down date.
Zenner is signing a contract to stay in Detroit, where he figures to compete for the No. 4 running back job, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports.
Zenner has appeared in 28 games for the Lions since catching on as an undrafted free agent in 2015, taking 119 carries for 420 yards (3.5 YPC) and five touchdowns and catching 20 of 27 targets for 207 yards. He played more snaps on special teams (155) than offense (65) last season, and he'll likely have a similar role if he sticks on the roster for another year. The Lions are trying to add a veteran -- possibly Frank Gore -- to compete with Ameer Abdullah and Tion Green for carries. Zenner's special teams acumen may eventually give him the upper hand over Green or Abdullah in a battle for one of the final roster spots.
Zenner didn't receive a contract tender from the Lions, Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports.
Zenner was often a healthy scratch in 2017, only seeing the field when the injury bug crept up on the tailbacks above him on the depth chart. The South Dakota State ultimately finished the season with only 26 yards and one touchdown on 14 rushing attempts -- though his abysmal 1.9 YPC is likely a reflection of his deployment as a battering ram in short-yardage situations, opposed to relative ineffectiveness. Still only 26 years old, Zenner will become an unrestricted free agent after failing to receive a contract tender from Detroit and could draw interest from a number of teams in need of a goal-line bruiser.
Zenner rushed 14 times for 26 yards and one touchdown over eight games during the 2017 season.
After losing his grip on the short-yardage role in training camp to Dwayne Washington, Zenner re-entered the fold in Week 3 once Washington was lost to a thigh injury. However, even as injuries piled up in the Detroit backfield, Zenner was never given more than three carries in any one game throughout the entire year and ended the season as a healthy scratch in each of the final three outings. His future is now up in the air, as Zenner is set to be a restricted free agent and is no guarantee to be retained as a member of the Lions.
Zenner (coach's decision) is inactive for Sunday's Week 17 tilt against the Packers.
Zenner will thus finish off the 2017 campaign last having seen action in Week 14. The short-yardage specialist carried just 14 times overall in what was his third NFL season, while failing to record a single reception for the first time in his career. With the Lions' coaching regime potentially on the move following a disappointing season, Zenner's future remains cloudy for the moment.
|4||9/30/18||@ DAL||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 6|
|7||10/21/18||@ MIA||1:00 pm|
|9||11/4/18||@ MIN||1:00 pm|
|10||11/11/18||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ ARI||4:25 pm|
|15||12/16/18||@ BUF||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ GB||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|