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C.J. Ham Confident in Year 2, Embracing Fullback Role

MANKATO, Minn. –C.J. Ham has been asked this offseason to play a different position, but the transition doesn't rattle him.

The Duluth, Minnesota, native was signed by the Vikings last season as an undrafted free agent and spent all of 2016 as a running back on the team's practice squad. Now fulfilling fullback duties, Ham said the move has been made easier because not much has changed schematically.

"We're doing a lot of the same plays that we did last year, even with [Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur]," Ham said following Monday's walk-through session. "Playing fullback is a little bit of a different position for me, so I just have to learn the ins and outs of it."

Shurmur, in his first offseason as the Vikings offensive coordinator after taking over midseason last year when Norv Turner resigned, said Ham has the traits that coaches look for in a fullback.

"He's a physical guy, he can catch the ball well, he knows who to block in pass protection," Shurmur told media during his podium session. "And then in the rare situation where you might hand him the ball, he's got some running skills. So those are the things that he brings to the table."

According to Shurmur, Ham is a good enough runner that he could be called on to take a handoff in a one-back scenario.

When the rest of the Vikings veterans report to camp on Wednesday and the team moves to full-pads practices on Saturday, coaches will get a more accurate look at how Ham can hold his own in blocking situations.

"For a fullback and guys that play on the line of scrimmage, the physical nature of training camp will help kind of sort out where this goes," Shurmur said. "But we're very pleased with what he's done to this point, and we feel like he's set himself up to have a good camp."

Whether or not the Vikings will reserve one of the 53-man-roster spots for a fullback is yet to be determined. Shurmur mentioned that if fullback isn't a designated position, using extra tight ends could be an option, too. But Minnesota's coaching staff is looking at more of a big-picture goal offensively.

"Ultimately what you try to do is to put the best offensive roster that you can put together and then use the players in a way where you maximize their strengths, skills and abilities," Shurmur said.

Ham hopes to fit into that puzzle.

He acknowledged the talent in the running back room and said it will be interesting to see how everything shakes out before the final roster cut down.

Coming in last year as a rookie and from a smaller school, it was easy for Ham to feel he had something to prove. This season, however, he's less concerned about his backstory and more focused on performing the way he knows he's capable of.

"I've been here for a year, I'm confident in my abilities," Ham said. "I just need to go out and continue to learn and just have fun doing it."

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