EAGAN, Minn. — Vikings fullback C.J. Ham was a Pro Bowl alternate last season. Now, he’s hoping to take the next step.
The Vikings are touting Ham, a Duluth native who signed as an undrafted free-agent running back in 2016 and changed positions in 2017, to be their first Pro Bowl fullback since Jerome Felton in 2012.
“I’ll champion all our (candidates); C.J. is an easy one,” offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said Friday. “I would just encourage people to turn on the tape. The tape is your resume in this business, and I think he’s got some really good tape. He’s doing a very nice job.”
Ham was surprised to be named a Pro Bowl alternate last season when he averaged just 9.3 snaps per game. In a new scheme this season, he’s been a much more integral part of the offense, averaging 23.1 snaps.
“Obviously, it would be a huge honor for anybody to be put in that category of the best in the league,” Ham said. “I’m just glad I’m having some success and continuing to be on the field.”
Felton made the Pro Bowl after helping pave the way for NFL MVP Adrian Peterson to rush for 2,097 yards. Ham is helping block for Dalvin Cook, third in the NFL in rushing with 1,017 yards.
Ham has shown versatility, as well, playing special teams and catching nine passes for 57 yards. Last month at Detroit, he caught his first NFL touchdown pass.
“C.J. is someone who is smart and obviously tough, playing that position, but where you can line him up out wide and bring him back into the formation, or keep him out wide, he just gives you a couple of different things that you can do to make yourself hard to defend,” Stefanski said.
Cook all the way back
Cook, who has been bothered by a chest injury, was listed as a full participant in practice Friday.
Linebacker Ben Gedeon (concussion) was the only player who didn’t practice Friday. He was injured in the first half of the Vikings’ 27-23 win Nov. 17 over Denver.
Listed as limited were wide receiver Adam Thielen (hamstring), nose tackle Linval Joseph (knee), defensive end Everson Griffen (knee), safeties Harrison Smith (hamstring) and Anthony Harris (groin) and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee).
Thielen and Joseph have missed two straight games. Harris is optimistic about being back after sitting out one game.
“I’m doing good,” he said. “Body’s feeling good, so I’m just continuing to do what they’re asking me and getting ready to go.”
The Vikings began Friday’s practice by playing Hank Williams’ “Monday Night Football” theme song. “It’s just about getting guys hyped up and really thinking about what we’re facing Monday night,’’ said tight end Irv Smith Jr. … The Vikings have pumped crowd noise into practice in preparation for CenturyLink Field. “It’s really loud, which is impressive for an open-air building to be as loud as it is,” Stefanski said. “Their fans do a great job.” … In recent years, the Vikings have flown to games on the West Coast two days in advance but will leave this time on Sunday. “It’s too long to be over there for a night game,” Zimmer said.