Lions RB Zach Zenner 'appreciative' of Michael Bennett comments
Michael Bennett made headlines this week when he pointed out Zach Zenner's skin color while praising his running style, but Zenner said Wednesday he did not take any offense to Bennett's comments about him being the best white running back in the NFL.
"That does not bother me, no," Zenner said.
Bennett, in a conference call with Detroit reporters Tuesday, said Zenner appears to have given a lift to the Lions' dormant running game the last two weeks.
Zenner ran for a career-high 67 yards two weeks ago in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, then topped that with 69 yards rushing last week in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.
"I think the running back, man, he’s — there’s not many white running backs in the NFL but he has to be the best right now," Bennett said. "He’s doing such a great job of cutbacks and hitting the hole. He’s a really good back. I know all the stuff he did in college, three straight seasons of 2,000 yards. I don’t care where you’re at, if you can do that you have got amazing talent. And I think he’s just an amazing running back, the things he can do with the ball. He got good balance, he can spin, he can catch it out of the backfield. I think he fits the offense perfectly."
Asked if he was surprised at Zenner's production, Bennett said, "That surprises me a lot because you don’t see a lot of (white) running backs in the NFL, there’s just a couple. But he’s right now, he’s really, really good. He does a lot of great things, I think. Even in the pass protection game, he steps up and he does a great job of protection. I’m not surprised that he’s the starter right now because of all the great things that he’s doing."
Zenner said Wednesday that he took Bennett's comments as a compliment.
"Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and it sounded like he said some pretty nice stuff," Zenner said. "So I’m appreciative of that and I think he’s a really good player and we’ve got to be ready to face him. He does some stuff that you just kind of say wow when you look at the tape."
Zenner, who ran for 2,000 yards in three straight seasons at South Dakota State, played sparingly last year as a rookie before fractured ribs and a punctured lung ended his season. This year, he toiled in reserve until Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick suffered season-ending injuries.
Zenner said he doesn't believe he had to overcome any preconceived notions about white running backs to make it in the NFL.
"I mean, I’m here, I had the same opportunity as everyone else so I would say none," he said.
And Lions coach Jim Caldwell brushed off Bennett's comments.
"I think Michael Bennett, he’s very entertaining," Caldwell said. "He does a great job with the media and those kinds of things. Great player. Not an average player, great player. And his comments are his comments. I think that regardless of race, creed or color, he’s just a good, very, very good football player. That’s how we look at it.”
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