Zach Zenner

Lions Re-Sign RB Zach Zenner

The Lions re-signed running back Zach Zenner, according to a team announcement. Zenner will serve as the team’s fourth running back now that Ameer Abullah is out of the picture.

Zenner spent the last three seasons with the Lions and re-signed with the club this offseason. Unfortunately, he was held back by injuries in the summer and was released from IR in September. After waiting the required period of time, the Lions brought him back into the fold.

Zenner enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016 when he ran for 334 yards and four touchdowns off of 88 carries. He also added 18 catches for 196 yards. All of those numbers stand as career highs for the former UDFA out of South Dakota State.

Barring an injury, Zenner doesn’t figure to see a whole lot of work this time around. For now, he’s stationed behind Kerryon Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, and Theo Riddick.

To make room for Zenner, the Lions waived wide receiver Andy Jones.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/12/18

Today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

  • Waived from injured reserve: OL J.J. Dielman

Detroit Lions

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

Lions Announce Roster Cuts

In addition to trading offensive tackle Corey Robinson to the Panthers, the Lions have also reduced their roster to 53 players.

Released:

Waived:

Placed on injured reserve:

Placed on PUP:

Waived from injured reserve:

With Rudock out of the picture, Matt Cassel will serve as the backup to quarterback Matthew Stafford. Freeny conceivably could have made the roster based on his familiarity with head coach Matt Patricia, but the Lions went in another direction.

North Notes: Lions, Abdullah, Tate, Browns, Ward, Packers, Williams

After drafting Kerryon Johnson in the second round and signing LeGarrette Blount in free agency, the Lions suddenly have a crowded running backs room. In addition to Johnson and Blount, the team also has Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington, and Zach Zenner on the team. At this point, Johnson, Blount, and Riddick are the locks to make t he team, while Abdullah, Washington, and Zenner are on the roster bubble, according to Tim Twentyman of Detroitlions.com.

Twentyman thinks the three on the bubble will be fighting it out for just one spot on the team. As of now he seems to think that Abdullah has the edge. The team can save $1MM in cap space by cutting Abdullah. Abdullah has been a disappointment since entering the league with a lot of hype as a second round pick back in 2015. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, even if he does make the roster this fall, 2018 should be his last season in Detroit. Washington and Zenner have both been hanging around the bottom of the Lions’ roster the past couple of years, and it looks like it could be the end of the road for them.

Here’s more from the league’s northern divisions:

  • The Browns are very high on rookie Denzel Ward, reports Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland. The number four overall pick in this year’s draft, Ward has drawn rave reviews from defensive coordinator Gregg Williams this spring. “He is one of the best press guys that I have seen” Williams said, adding that Ward “passed with flying colors” during offseason workouts. It sounds like Ward could start right away and that he could help solve the Browns’ long-lasting issues at cornerback.
  • The Packers battle between Tramon Williams and rookie Josh Jackson for a starting cornerback spot will be one of the most interesting competitions to keep an eye on, writes Nick Shook of NFL.com. Shook points out that Williams is 35, and that the Packers might be eager to usher in a “new era” at cornerback with Jackson. Williams could hang on as a starter for one final year, but it won’t be long until the Packers’ younger cornerbacks take over.
  • Golden Tate isn’t concerned with his contract, he told Sirius XM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Tate said he wasn’t worried about heading into the final year of his deal, and doesn’t appear to be pressuring the Lions for a new one. He did say teams shouldn’t hold his age against him, because he hasn’t “shown any decline.”

Lions Re-Sign RB Zach Zenner

The Lions announced that they have re-signed running back Zach Zenner. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Zenner, 27 in September, was non-tendered by Detroit. He’s back with the team on a new deal anyway, presumably one that is cheaper than the low level tender of $1.907MM.

The running back originally joined the Lions as an undrafted rookie free agent out of South Dakota State in 2015. In eight games last season, he had 14 carries for 26 yards and one touchdown. He saw the most action of his career in 2016 when he ran for 334 yards off of 88 carries (just 3.8 yards per attempt) and four touchdowns. He also added 18 catches for 196 yards.

The Lions are widely expected to add to their running back group, though they did not sign a new RB in the first couple days of free agency. For now, Ameer Abdullah profiles as Detroit’s top runner with Theo Riddick, Tion Green, and Dwayne Washington in support.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/14/18

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions, with the list being updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

RFAs

Tendered at the second-round level ($2.914MM):

Tendered at original round level ($1.907MM):

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

NFC Notes: Fitzgerald, DeHaven, Lions, Redskins

Larry Fitzgerald recently signed an extension with the Cardinals that would take him through the 2017 season. However, when asked if he’d retire before completing the contract, the veteran wideout dodged the question.

“That’s kind of self explanatory, right?” Fitzgerald told Kent Somers of AZCentral.com. “I hope so. We’ve got a good thing going right now. We’ve got a really good football team. But not only that, management, Steve Keim (General Manager), Coach (Bruce) Arians, Michael Bidwill. We’ve done a great job in all phases of organization football, and it’s been fun to be around here the last couple years.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Panthers special teams coach Bruce DeHaven is taking a leave of absence to resume cancer treatments, writes Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer. The coordinator title has been handed to assistant Thomas McGaughey, and former NFL linebacker Chase Blackburn will slide into the assistant role. DeHaven, who has been coaching for 46 years, is hoping to return for the team’s Week 2 game against the 49ers. In the meantime, he’ll serve as the Panthers’ senior special teams advisor.
  • Lions rookie running back Zach Zenner got a longer look during the team’s preseason opener than veteran Stevan Ridley. The two backs have been splitting reps in practice, and ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes both players will ultimately make the roster. However, the writer notes that if Zenner continues to get playing time over Ridley, the veteran could find himself on the “roster bubble.”
  • Rich Tandler of RealRedskins.com writes that the Redskins were expected to only carry a pair of quarterbacks on their roster (Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy) with the hope that rookie Nate Sudfeld would end up on the practice squad. However, Tandler writes that the signal-caller is making a case to make the roster.
  • Tandler notes that cornerback Greg Toler‘s play has led to some tough decisions for the Redskins coaching staff. If the former fourth-rounder ended up on the team, the organization would either cut Quinton Dunbar or Dashaun Phillips, although the team’s lack of safeties makes the latter unlikely.

Lions Notes: Orlovsky, Washington, Carter

Well-traveled backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky re-signed with the Lions this offseason after spending 2015 as the team’s No. 2 signal-caller behind Matthew Stafford. However, the Lions drafted Michigan’s Jake Rudock in the sixth round of this year’s draft–the first time Detroit has drafted a QB since selecting Stafford himself in 2009–and that selection immediately put Orlovsky’s job in jeopardy. After all, new GM Bob Quinn was raised in a Patriots system that typically keeps just two quarterbacks, and rarely has the backup been a veteran.

But Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press writes that both head coach Jim Caldwell and OC Jim Bob Cooter sang Orlovsky’s praises after the conclusion of OTAs on Thursday, and as Rudock is a fairly raw prospect, the Lions may wind up keeping three quarterbacks in 2016, or even trying to stash Rudock on the practice squad. In any event, it is far too early to count Orlovsky out of the picture.

Now for more from the Motor City:

  • Detroit selected running back Dwayne Washington in the seventh round of this year’s draft, but because NFL policy prohibits college players from practicing with their new teams until their academic year is over, Washington’s first OTA practice on Thursday was the team’s last OTA practice, which puts him at a major disadvantage. However, as Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com writes, Washington’s speed was on full display on Thursday, and Washington himself indicated that the practice went as well as could be expected.
  • Speaking of Washington, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says the former University of Washington Husky could insert himself into the team’s running back equation, but if he had to handicap the RB race right now, Rothstein believes Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Stevan Ridley, and Zach Zenner would make the club (although Ridley’s and Zenner’s spots are certainly up for grabs).
  • In the same piece, Rothstein says Alex Carter, last year’s third-round selection, is expected to be a significant part of the Lions’ cornerback rotation. Carter suffered an ankle injury during the early stages of training camp last season and did not play a single snap for Detroit, but Rothstein pegs him as the team’s No. 4 corner behind Darius Slay, Quandre Diggs, and Nevin Lawson.
  • We learned several days ago that Stephen Tulloch is still unsure as to whether he will be on the team in 2016, and we also learned that the Lions waived wideout Corey Washington with an injury designation.

Lions To Place Zach Zenner On IR

4:39pm: The Lions will promote running back George Winn from the taxi squad to take Zenner’s place, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

11:46am: The Lions will be placing running back Zach Zenner on the injured reserve list at some point in the near future, head coach Jim Caldwell confirmed today. As ESPN’s Michael Rothstein details, Zenner suffered multiple cracked ribs and a partially collapsed lung on Sunday, and remains hospitalized for now.

Zenner, a promising rookie out of South Dakota State, earned a spot on the Lions’ roster out of camp, and saw some action behind Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah, and Theo Riddick during the early going. For the season, Zenner has 60 rushing yards on 17 attempts, along with a pair of receptions.

Once Zenner officially lands on IR, the Lions will have an extra roster spot to either use on a running back or another position.

NFC North Notes: Zenner, Ford, Palardy, Richardson

Lions running back Zach Zenner had two huge carries on Monday night against the Seahawks, and has made a compelling case to take some of Joique Bell‘s playing time, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Bell has missed time with knee and ankle injuries, and but was only averaging 1.1 yards per carry on 20 attempts so far this season. Zenner only has four carries on the season, but could see an increased workload going forward.

  • The Ford family has owned the Lions for years, and Bill has served as the team’s vice chairman for over 20 years. However, he admitted that it is actually his mother Martha who has been running the organization since William Clay Ford passed away in March, according to Aaron McMann of MLive.com“She’s in charge. She absolutely is,” Bill said. “Since my father passed away over a year ago, my mother is in charge and she makes all the decisions.”
  • The Bears worked out punter Michael Palardy today at Halas Hall, according to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter). The rookie was previously with the Rams.
  • Packers safety Sean Richardson will miss the rest of the season with a neck injury, which could be career threatening according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Zach Links contributed to this post.