Versatile fullback focused on his task

Zach Line doesn’t know if the Minnesota Vikings will even keep a fullback, but he’s doing what he can to earn the spot if it’s there.

The fullback position for the Minnesota Vikings is an interesting one as the team moves away from training camp and heads toward the second half of the preseason. Zach Line is currently the favorite to win the position and is getting plenty of first-team reps, but the team might not even keep a fullback when they have to trim the roster down to 53 players.

The Vikings have two tight ends on their roster, Rhett Ellison and MyCole Pruitt, who are able to line up in the backfield and take on the fullback’s responsibilities. So by having those players available and potentially cutting the fullback spot, it opens up a roster spot for the Vikings to keep another play.

Line isn’t too worried about that, though, because it is out of his control. He just wants to go out there and prove he deserves to be on the team. After all, head coach Mike Zimmer has said he wants the 53 best players and positions don’t matter too much, and so far offensive coordinator Norv Turner is high on the fullback.

“You’re talking to the wrong guy when you’re talking about the 53-man squad or how many guys we keep on offense, but Zach Line is a very good football player,” Turner said when asked if the team expects to keep a fullback. “He’s a versatile football player, he can play fullback, he can play halfback, he can play special teams. He’s having an outstanding camp, so I see him as a valuable part of our offense.”

Even if Line makes the 53-man roster, it doesn’t mean he will see the field on a regular basis. Last year the Vikings had one of the best fullbacks in the game in Jerome Felton and used him in less than 20 percent of the offensive snaps. Line said the Vikings have a pretty good group of guys and “whatever we call is going to be pretty alright.”

His first opportunity to really show the coaches what he has to offer was Saturday during the team’s second preseason game. He was happy with his performance, but also feel like there is plenty he can improve on.

“First game for me, I didn’t play the Hall of Fame Game, so shaking the dust off, getting the rust off and I had to get back in the groove of playing full speed,” he said. “First couple reps just getting adjusted, but as the game went on I got more and more comfortable. I think I got a good amount of work, which is always good to get things moving and I thought as a whole there was a lot of room for improvement but it was a good start.”

Line received 23 offensive snaps during the course of the game and recorded 18 rushing yards on four attempts, a rushing touchdown and three receptions for 15 yards – and also had one drop.

The one area of his game he didn’t get to utilize as much as he wanted was blocking. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved around a lot and used a lot of stunts so there weren’t really any clean shots for him to take. He feels as though he has improved a lot since last year with his blocking, so he is ready to put it to the test.

“Training camp has given me a lot of confidence; I’ve been blocking pretty well,” he said. “I’m striking. I’ve just got to work and the lower and the lower I get the more movement I’ll get. We didn’t get a lot of open looks for some good blocks against Tampa. They do a lot of line stunts and a lot of moving around so you don’t get a lot of head-on collisions. But as we move forward there will be more opportunities for some open alleys to take some shots at some linebackers.”

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the fullback position on the Vikings roster and the weeks until the regular season continue to wind down. There still seems to be more questions than answers, but Line is doing his best not to worry.

He is confident in his abilities to play the game and he knows there is more than just one way for him to help his team.

“I’m not worried. I think all that matters is winning games because I can control what I can,” he said. “When I’m in there I’ll do my job and there’s other places I can contribute, like special teams. There’s three phases, not just one.

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