The case for Lions RB Zach Zenner

Zenner was inactive Sunday

ALLEN PARK — Zach Zenner has scored five rushing touchdowns in the last 17 games — none of his teammates are even close to that mark.

Yet, the Lions running back was inactive in Sunday’s 20-15 loss to the Steelers when the Lions were 0-for-5 in the red zone.

Zenner has only been active in four of the seven games this season and yet, at the moment, he appears to be the Lions best chance at a rushing touchdown inside the 10-yard line.

It’s a head-scratcher.

In that 17-game stretch the only other running back to score a rushing touchdown was Ameer Abdullah on Oct. 8 when he ran in from 3 yards out at the Vikings. The only other Lions to score rushing touchdowns in the last 17 games are tight end Eric Ebron on a 1-yard run and Matthew Stafford who ran in from 7 yards out. Both were in 2016.

Dwayne Washington, Sunday’s featured power back, has only scored one touchdown — a 1-yard run —  and that was in his first game as a rookie on Sept. 11, 2016.

Zenner was huge at the end of last season with four rushing touchdowns in the last 10 games and three in the last two games. He had a good camp and preseason, yet was inactive the first two games so he hasn’t had much chance to pick up where he left off.

Here is a look at Zenner’s scores:

Oct. 23, 2016 — 1-yard touchdown run vs Redskins

Dec, 26, 2016 — Two touchdowns including a 7-yard run and a 1-yard run

Jan. 1, 2017 — 1-yard touchdown run.

Oct. 8, 2017 — 1-yard touchdown run against the Panthers

Zenner also excels at pass blocking and in 2016 had 18 catches for 196 yards. He doesn’t have one reception in the four games he played this season.

He has good hands, losing only one fumble in 2016.

Look, the Lions certainly have these stats. They do their homework. So maybe there’s a reason that’s not so obvious that has kept Zenner on the bench. In his four games this season he has 10 runs for 16 yards — one of those was for 14 yards.

Just seems Zenner could provide an option in the red zone.


Author: Paula Pasche

Paula Pasche, a veteran sports writer, covers the Detroit Lions for her Lions Lowdown blog. She has written two books, "Game of My Life Detroit Lions" and "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" which are available at bookstores and on She won first place for column writing from the Society of Professional Journalists in Detroit (Class B) in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and was The Oakland Press 2010 Staffer of the Year.

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