Growing family has Lions’ Zach Zenner thinking about career options

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News

Allen Park – Running back Zach Zenner admitted Thursday that becoming a father for the second time last week has him thinking more about the future.

Zenner and his wife, Alyssa, welcomed Boden to the world, joining 15-month-old big brother, Zayne.

Zach Zenner

“My 15-month-old, my wife says, eats like a first grader. So I need to keep working, do something,” Zenner said. “But I feel like if my career were to end today, I’m 27, that’s like at least 25 years where I need something to do. I have a lot of interests, but I also need an income.”

Those post-football thoughts always seem to lead Zenner to science.

Zenner is not sure what field he’ll pursue, or if he’ll for sure attend medical school, but lately has been thinking about becoming a primary care general practitioner, in part because of his experiences as a player.

“It’s changed over the years,” he said. “I think now, the longer I played, I have two kids, it’s more about hours worked. That eliminates a lot of specialties in the field.”

Zenner passed the Medical College Admission Test after playing at South Dakota State. His results expired this offseason and he retook the test. In the past, Zenner has studied the impact of diet on hypertension. He also has researched Batten Disease, a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disorder that impacts children. If he does decide on medical school, Zenner hopes to go somewhere in or near his home state of Minnesota. But that path is not a given.

“Maybe I’d go into research as a lab tech or go to a different professional school, or a teacher or something,” he said. “I just really like science in general, that’s a passion of mine. That’s what I would see myself doing when this is over.”

Zenner is back on a one-year deal with the Lions after rushing for 265 yards last season, his fourth with the Lions. Zenner played in eight games last year after breaking his back in the preseason.

Secondary shakeups

With Darius Slay not participating in voluntary organized team activities this week, free-agent signee Rashaan Melvin spent time with the No. 1s at cornerback.

The 29-year-old is with his seventh franchise after starting 26 games over the last three seasons with Indianapolis in 2016-17 and Oakland last year.

“Those guys just have to step up and use that time to better their craft,” second-year safety Tracy Walker said. “The reps don’t come very often, out here you might get four or five reps. So you’ve got to make every rep count. It’s not like college where you get 10-12 reps.

Walker, a third-round pick last season from Louisiana-Lafayette, has a chance to start at safety after the departure of mainstay Glover Quin, who started every game in his six seasons in Detroit.

“He’s done a lot of great things, but honestly, I just see that as now, I got to step up and do whatever I’m asked,” Walker said. “You just got to come out here and push yourself to be better, and I feel like every DB is coming out here to do that.”

Walker said the game has slowed down for him in Year 2.

“I focused on me being a better human being,” Walker said of the offseason. “Physically, emotionally and spiritually. I just want to be a better person.”