Zach Zenner signs 1-year deal to stay with Detroit Lions

Dave Birkett
Detroit Free Press
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The Detroit Lions didn't have to go far to find a backup for Kerryon Johnson.

The Lions re-signed running back Zach Zenner to a one-year deal Tuesday, keeping their top backup at the position off the open market.

Detroit Lions running back Zach Zenner runs by Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, December 23, 2018.

Zenner was the Lions' leading rusher in the second half of last season, when he played eight games and made one start in place of an injured Johnson.

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He finished the season with 265 yards on 55 carries, and projects to be Johnson's primary backup this fall.

The Lions signed or agreed to terms with four free agents at positions of need Monday, signing wide receiver Danny Amendola to a one-year deal and agreeing to terms with defensive end Trey Flowers, cornerback Justin Coleman and tight end Jesse James.

They expressed interest in a handful of free-agent running backs, and hoped to bring Flint product Mark Ingram in for a free-agent visit later this week, but in the end re-signed the reliable Zenner.

Signed by the Lions as an undrafted rookie in 2015, Zenner missed the first half of last season after breaking the L2 and L3 transverse process in his back.

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Lions running back Zach Zenner is tackled by the Packers defense Dec. 30, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis.

He played primarily on special teams upon his return in early November, but after Johnson suffered a knee injury in the middle of the month, and with LeGarrette Blount averaging a menial 2.7 yards per carry, Zenner eventually took over as the Lions' starter.

Zenner finished the season with a career-high 93 yards on 21 carries in a Week 17 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Ingram, who spent the last eight seasons with the New Orleans Saints, is expected to have a contract in place elsewhere when the free-agent signing period opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The Lions also return Theo Riddick to their backfield, and still could add another running back through free agency or the draft.

Blount, who'll become a free agent Wednesday, is not expected back for a second season with the Lions.

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