Minnesota Vikings RB C.J. Ham evolving into a three-way player

Minnesota Vikings running back C.J. Ham at training camp in Mankato, Minnesota - (photo by Dominique Clare and published with express consent)
Minnesota Vikings running back C.J. Ham at training camp in Mankato, Minnesota - (photo by Dominique Clare and published with express consent) /

Minnesota Vikings fullback C.J. Ham offers a unique skill set that gives the Minnesota Vikings a roster advantage this upcoming season.

Before the 2017 NFL offseason, Minnesota Vikings player C.J. Ham was set to have a breakout year at running back. That changed quickly when the Vikings drafted Dalvin Cook during the 2017 NFL draft. Cook added to an array of talented back that consisted of Latavius Murray, C.J. Ham, and Bishop Sankey.

To avoid wasting his talent, the Vikings moved C.J. Ham from running back to fullback before training camp. This move also came after the departure of last years fullback Zach Line. Last season Line played in 15 games that resulted in 7 rushes for 15 yards.

Ham is a powerful runner but blocking as a fullback is a new challenge for him. Mike Zimmer said the following about Ham as reported by Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press.

"“We never really got a chance to look at him being a true lead blocker. So, that’ll be the biggest question for him. He’s good coming out of the backfield. He’s good getting on the right guys, knowing where to be. When he’s got to take on these big linebackers, that’ll be the big test.”"

The good thing for Ham is that he offers two other valuable things for the team.

The perfect running back hybrid

The first is that he is the perfect size to play both running back and fullback. During training camp Ham took offensive reps at both positions. He ran with the ones at fullback and the backup groups at running back. He is an effective running back and will serve as excellent insurance if Dalvin Cook or Latavius Murray ever get injured.

Last night during the Vikings first preseason game, Ham punched a touchdown from the running back position proving he is a tough runner.

Having a fullback that can act as a running back as well makes the Vikings harder for opposing teams to prepare for. Minnesota will be able to shift formations and get into a two back set to keep the defense on their heals. In short yardage situations they will also have excellent options out of the I-formation.

More from The Viking Age

Ham will help the team anyway he can

The second reason C.J. Ham is so valuable is because he plays special teams. He is active on all of the units and understand the importance of that aspect.. Being a fullback and backup running back may result in limited snaps. He will get the opportunity to impact the game more often on special teams.

Zimmer went on to say.

"“If a guy is going to play, let’s say 10 plays a game, he’d better be really good on special teams, as well, in order to make the squad, That’s always kind of situation where you have to try to figure it out.”"

At training camp and during the first preseason game C.J. Ham looked to have a large role on special teams this season. That will keep him busy until the offense calls his personnel group to the field.

Next: Vikings escape Buffalo with first preseason win

C.J. Ham is an excellent piece to the Minnesota Vikings 2017 puzzle. By having him at fullback the Vikings can keep one less active running back on the 53 man roster and a guy that contributes heavily on special teams. This is a smart positional change that puts the Vikings in a better position to win. All ham has to do now is prove that he can handle all three jobs!