Mailbag: Can Zach Zenner be the Lions' power back in 2016?

Zach Zenner has a chance to be Lions' power running back late in games, but he has to make the roster first. Alex Brandon/AP

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Minicamp is over. Players and coaches are scattering all across the country -- and maybe the world -- for one last break before training camp starts in July.

The mailbag, though, remains. At least for this week. This is likely the last mailbag until right before training camp in July, unless issues arise that have cause for questions. Summer vacation is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

But there are questions -- a lot of them -- still facing the Detroit Lions. We’ll answer some of them now.

@mikerothstein: There are a lot of positions that have question marks, but I think you start on offense at running back. While the Lions have talent there, until Detroit sees Ameer Abdullah and Stevan Ridley return at training camp and take a couple of hits, it’ll be tough to know exactly what they look like. Staying on offense, the offensive line is also going to see a bit of uncertainty since it is a rebuilt group and has yet to do anything with pads. For instance, will the Lions still feel good about Taylor Decker at left tackle after pads are put on? How does that work out? The third position is on the defensive line for the same reasons as the offensive line. Detroit knows what it has in Ezekiel Ansah and Haloti Ngata, but how does Devin Taylor adjust to a larger role? What about A'Shawn Robinson with pads? Just some of the questions that need to be answered for Detroit.


@mikerothstein: It wouldn’t surprise me at this point. The Lions should feel good about their top two receivers in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. Other than that, there are questions. Jeremy Kerley and Andre Roberts had production slip over the past few years with the Jets and Washington. TJ Jones has a chance to be good, but has not been in an increased role before. Does Andre Caldwell make the squad? The guy to watch will be Anquan Boldin. If the Lions look to bring in a veteran, he would be a guy to pay attention to -- possibly soon. But yes, I imagine Detroit at least gives another receiver a run at some point before settling on the roster.

@mikerothstein: In short, yes. While the Lions are hoping Ridley can be the guy who can be the power back late in games and for short yardage up the middle, Zach Zenner has a chance to be that back as well. He showed promise in limited carries during his rookie year before injury landed him on injured reserve. He has to make the roster first -- and that’s no guarantee as he’ll be competing with Dwayne Washington and George Winn -- but he’s got a good shot at it. If he ends up on the roster, his role could easily be as a short yardage/power back who also has special-teams value.

@mikerothstein: That would seem to be the planned role for Anthony Zettel. He’s listed as a “defensive lineman” on the roster instead of an end or a tackle and he has multi-positional flexibility. Devin Taylor, while expected to be the starter with the Lions at defensive end, can also play inside and outside if necessary. Detroit is a bit thin at defensive end, though, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team bring in another end or two at some point during training camp to compete for a job.

@mikerothstein: So I asked Jim Caldwell about this, in part because there was a point in time where I tried doing the two-glove thing and hated the lack of feel I had on the clubs. Here’s what Caldwell said: “Cause I don’t get a chance to play very often so what happens is if I get a chance to play for any length of time, it keeps my hands from getting blistered early on. I play sporadically.”