RB Zach Zenner banking on Lions return

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Although the Lions roster could have significant turnover this offseason, running back Zach Zenner seems like a safe bet to return.

After making the team as an undrafted rookie in 2015, Zenner is set to make $525,000 in 2016 and $615,000 in 2017, and with his untapped potential, he should, at the very least, have a chance to compete for playing time.

But after experiencing how tough it is to make an NFL roster last year, Zenner isn’t taking anything for granted.

“If I’m lucky enough to be here, (I’ll) show up and just go to work again,” he said last week. “No expectations. I expect to have to earn my spot just like last year.”

Zenner’s rookie season ended in Week 6 after a hard hit cracked four ribs and partially collapsed his lung, but he’s already “100 percent” healthy.

“I feel awesome,” he said. “I’m still purposely giving myself a rest, but I’m going to start picking it back up here in the next month or so.”

Zach Zenner has seen 33 percent of his 24 carries fail to result in positive yardage.

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Zenner finished the season with 17 carries for 60 yards.

While resting, Zenner said he filed his application for Sanford School of Medicine in South Dakota in order to defer his acceptance again as he did last year. In the spring, he plans to participate in a research opportunity in Metro Detroit involving rats and fructose.

For Zenner, a reprieve from football could have long-term benefits. He admits he would’ve rather suffered the injury, if he had to, late in the season, but he had at least 300 carries in each of his final three seasons at South Dakota State.

“Just this rest, I think is going to be very valuable in the future in terms of overall body health and joint health,” he said. “You never want to miss time for any reason, but that’s the silver lining that you’re giving your body rest.”