Zach Line was the innocent bystander in the crowd of Minnesota Vikings players. In the middle of the Adrian Peterson controversy, no player was hurt financially except for Line.
Vikings coaches explained several times how hard it was to find a good fullback these days, so when the mandatory roster cutdown to 53 active players came at the end of August, Line was the surprise second fullback kept by Minnesota, behind starter Jerome Felton.
“We think they’re both good players and fullbacks are hard to find if something happens,” head coach Mike Zimmer said after the roster trimming. “Plus, I think the need in this offense is big. And then we don’t want to lose good football players if they’re young guys, too.”
But when the Vikings scrambled over the weekend after deactivating Peterson, Line was the player released to make room for running back Joe Banyard.
Line ended up coming back on the Vikings’ practice squad, but that typically involves a deep pay cut. Initially scheduled to make $495,000 this year as a member of the 53-man roster, Line was released just before the second game of the season and now will make $6,300 for each week he is on the practice squad, more than a 75 percent pay cut.
“It’s the game we play. You know coming in it’s a crazy business,” Line said. “When they told me that they were going to release me and they had to bring another running back up, I understood. You only can do what you can do and I’ve just got to keep proving myself to the Vikings. They’ve been real good to me, so hopefully I have a bright future here and that’s why they keep finding ways to keep me around.”
As of Friday afternoon, the Vikings still had an open roster spot created from Tuesday’s move to put Peterson on the exempt-commissioner’s permission list.
Line has played the good soldier before. When Felton was suspended for the first three games last year, Line was the rookie that received the reps. However, upon Felton’s return, Line was placed on injured reserve with an injury that likely didn’t need a season-ending solution.
This time around, he figured he knew the end game and that he would be coming back to the team, but he said he didn’t try to plead his case that he could carry the ball if needed.
“I just try to be a football player and not make decisions for them. I’ll let my play on the field dictate what they want to do,” Line said.
“They expressed to me when they were doing it that they were hoping I would get through waivers and be able to come back here on the practice squad. I think and I hope that they have plans for me in the future. I like Minnesota and I like the coaching staff and I like what we got going on here. I like their thinking, too.”
Despite being the player caught in the roster-shuffle middle caused by Peterson’s legal trouble, Line doesn’t exude ill will. In fact, he was supportive of Peterson.
“He’s an unappointed leader. Since I’ve been here, he’s kind of set the standard for hard work and what that is – the Vikings way of doing things for running backs,” Line said. “We’ve got other guys like Jerome and Matt (Asiata) that are proven to be tough and physical and that’s what Adrian was. He kind of brought that. It’s hard not having one of your leaders, but we’ll carry the torch the best we can.
“… It sucks that you can’t be there as much for him right now. We know as much as everybody else. I wish the best to him as a teammate.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Line supportive despite slashed salary
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