As an undrafted free agent out of SMU signed by the Vikings in 2013, Zach Line was a pretty big underdog when it came to carving out a spot in the NFL. But Line, a fullback, made his way onto the active roster and this past Sunday scored his first regular-season touchdown — on his first career carry — in the Vikings’ win over Detroit. He also chatted this week with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q What has the process been like from the start of coming into this league undrafted until when you’re getting yourself established in this league?
A You’re always hoping to get drafted. It’s more of a pride thing. But it’s a fun journey when you do make the team your rookie year. You’re kind of thrown into the fire. … I had to step up quick and become a pro fast. But I’ve had a couple of years to learn from Jerome [Felton]. He’s a good player and probably one of the best fullbacks in the league. I’m trying to take what he taught me and what I see on film and put my own twist on the game.
Q What’s the role of a fullback in both this offense and the modern NFL in general?
A I think you have to be somewhat versatile as a fullback, especially in this offense. I think really the main goal is to set the tone. If you start the game with a run play, you want to get a good hit on a linebacker. You can fire your team up with one hit. Obviously you’re trying to stick with blocks and finish downfield so running backs can get yards. But the main thing for me is just trying to set the tempo.
Q What did it feel like last week getting the ball on the goal line?
A (Smiles). Um, I was happy to hear that call.
Q Were you surprised?
A Yeah, I was a little surprised, but the hole opened wide up. You have to give all the credit to the offensive linemen. I just dove for the white line. … I just knew I had to spike the ball really quick. That’s a running back rule. You have to spike it. I spiked it and celebrated with the team. It was a good feeling.
Q You have a touchdown now this year and Adrian Peterson doesn’t. Is that going to keep up for the whole year?
A I highly doubt that (laughs). But me and Teddy [Bridgewater] both have the rushing touchdowns right now.
Q Speaking of Adrian, how do you guys work together when specific runs are called in terms of setting him up?
A I’m trying to set up and tell him where to go with my blocks. I’ll try to put a good hit on whoever I’m blocking and stay on the block as long as I can. He has the ability to go anywhere on the field. The play might be called to go left, but he might go right because he sees something.
Q How much different does it feel in the locker room this week after getting a win compared to a week ago when you were coming off an opening loss?
A There’s definitely some energy. It’s a much better feeling coming in after a win. You come into the locker room, someone has the radio going and you just feel good. You soak it in and Monday you’re still kind of thinking about it. But as Monday comes to a close, you turn that off and it’s on to San Diego.