Line eager to step up if given opportunity

If fullback Jerome Felton goes elsewhere in free agency, Zach Line believes his versatility can be an asset in Norv Turner’s offense. He might get that opportunity in 2015.

Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton said he is planning on opting out of his contract so he can test the free agent market. As a former Pro Bowler, Felton could fetch a good price by a team in need of a fullback, especially since he is still only 28 years old.

He is not yet sure what the future holds, or if he will re-sign with the Vikings or another team, but after a year in offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s system it seems that there is not a big role for fullback, as Felton surprisingly was used sparingly throughout the year. That makes it seem more likely that Felton will sign elsewhere.

If that is the case and the Vikings choose to not bring in another fullback to replace him, Zach Line will be the next man up and become the starting fullback. Line has been in the league for two years now after signing with the Vikings in 2013 as an undrafted free agent. He believes is ready for his opportunity to be the full-time starter but is still thankful for everything Felton has taught him and wishes him the best of luck.

“Obviously (starting) is what you want to do,” Line said. “You want to be the guy. Jerome was a good guy to learn under, so I’m happy that I had that opportunity to play under him for two years. Saw some action last year, so I was able to get a little taste about what it’s like to be the guy as a fullback, but he is going to be successful wherever he is, if it’s here or elsewhere.”

Being a running back at SMU where he was able to rush for 4,185 yards and 47 touchdowns on 778 attempts, it shows Line is a versatile player with plenty of ability, but he is also a smaller player than Felton. Felton weighs in at 248 pounds, where Line is only 233 pounds.

The fact that Line is a versatile player could help him get into the offense more often because he can be used in more ways than just a run blocker.

“Yeah, obviously I think I’m a versatile player,” Line said. “I played running back in college and was successful there, and hopefully I can bring some of the things that Jerome had since he was a running back, too. He’s versatile, but yeah, the more you can do the better. That’s always how it goes.”

Even though a fullback did not get used very much in the 2014 season, Line is not discouraged about becoming the starter. He still believes that the fullback is an important position for this offense, and that it was only one year in a new offensive system so you cannot look into it too much when looking towards the future.

He also believes that the fullback position is making a comeback in the league and notes that multiple teams in the playoffs this year will often utilize the fullback position.

“I feel like if you look around the league there’s more and more of it. I think it went away for a little bit, but you see a lot of the teams that are making playoff runs right now use fullbacks,” Line said. “You got Green Bay – just one of the teams that has a heavy dose of fullback, and if not a fullback they got a tight end playing fullback – but I don’t think it’s going anywhere. There’s been a lot of speculation over the years, but obviously I think Norv likes the fullback. He uses them in many ways; even Rhett (Ellison) plays the fullback role a lot.”

With a lot of questions still surrounding the Vikings running game – not knowing if Adrian Peterson will be back next season, Jerick McKinnon coming off surgery and Matt Asiata being a restricted free agent – Line is not sure who exactly he would be blocking for. All he knows is that he is ready to be the main guy, if that happens, and make an impact so he can help his team win.

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