Lions' Zenner always happy to go for it

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Lions running back Zach Zenner rumbles for yardage late in the fourth quarter, with Rams T.J. McDonald eventually bringing him down.

Allen Park -- Given that timeouts are precious, and the time between plays can go by in a snap, there's not a whole lot of time for players to lobby the coaches to go for it on fourth down.

"If there is, I've not seen it or I'm not participating," running back Zach Zenner said. "I'm a soldier. Tell me what to do, I'll go do it."

Zenner had one of the Lions' two fourth-down conversions in Sunday's 31-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams at Ford Field.

He got the call in the first quarter, picked up the first down, and soon after, Matthew Stafford found Marvin Jones from 7 yards out for a touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.

The Lions went for it on fourth down twice in the game, converting both times, running their season total to 5-for-5. No other NFL team with that many fourth-down attempts remains perfect. (The Philadelphia Eagles are 4-for-4, and the Dallas Cowboys are 3-for-3.)

"We've always taken those opportunities when we thought they were there," coach Jim Caldwell said after Sunday's victory. "We go after it, we try to be prudent with it.

"It's a difficult task, and I think our guys up front did a nice job."

The Lions are middle of the pack in fourth-down attempts this season. Caldwell has shown his aggressiveness, especially lately, but showed some tentative play early in the season, most notably in the loss to the Tennessee Titans when he ordered a punt from inside the opponent's 40.

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Interestingly, Lions opponents have gone for it on fourth down three times, converting just once.

Offense players love the challenge, of course, as much as they despise seeing the field-goal or punt unit being sent onto the field.

And the more they continue to convert, the more comfortable Caldwell is likely to be in going for it.

"I didn't even blink, honestly," said Zenner, the Lions' fourth-string running back who had 14 carries for 58 yards in Sunday's victory. "In a way, as an offense, you're always expecting to go for it on fourth down.

"As an offensive guy, let's go for it! We can get it! You always have that confidence."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter @tonypaul1984