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Cook, Ham & Kendricks Basking in Experiences at 1st Career Pro Bowl

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Wearing matching grins and white-and-gold NFC jerseys, Vikings fullback C.J. Ham and running back Dalvin Cook wrapped their arms around the shoulders of C.J.'s mother, Tina.

The three posed for a photo after Thursday's NFC Pro Bowl practice at ESPN's Wide World of Sports.

"I'm so proud," Tina said later as she watched Ham and Cook interact. "I'm so happy."

Ham and Cook share a backfield on game day, and on Vikings road trips they share a room. They're more than teammates; they're close friends.


So it seemed only fitting that both would receive their first career Pro Bowl nods after impressive 2019 campaigns.

Ham helped block for Cook, who racked up 1,135 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in his third pro season.

Cook was named to the initial Pro Bowl roster, along with Vikings teammates Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith; Ham was added earlier this week as an alternate in place of 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

"He was supposed to be here. That's my guy. That's one of my close friends, and everything that C.J. does represents both of us," Cook said. "We come together and do it as one."

Ham, a Duluth native, called it "surreal" to have gone from practice squad to Pro Bowl for his home-state team.

"It really is a dream come true. I grew up watching the Pro Bowl, guys in Hawaii getting after it," he said.

"The first night, we were all sitting together in a meeting, and it really hit me that I was a part of this elite group," Ham added. "I'm super honored and blessed to be here. It really does mean a lot, all the fan support that I've gotten all season."

He and Cook spent time – along with other Vikings – signing autographs and snapping selfies with fans after Wednesday's and Thursday's practices.

"It's been amazing. Just being around these guys, these are some of the top guys in the league, and having fun being around the fans. You hear them calling my name," Cook laughed, gesturing behind him to a group of spectators decked in Purple. "It's been fun being in this environment and just enjoying it."

Kendricks, the lone Viking to be named All-Pro this season, is participating in his first Pro Bowl as an alternate after initially being snubbed for the game.

But there's no hard feelings from the fifth-year linebacker, who posted the following on Instagram:

On Wednesday, Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll, who is coaching the NFC squad, presented Kendricks with the honor of breaking down the team huddle.

View images of the Vikings at Thursday's practice at the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl.

Hunter (second career Pro Bowl), Smith (fifth), quarterback Kirk Cousins (second), defensive end Everson Griffen (fourth) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (third) also have shared advice with the Pro Bowl newbies on how to best capitalize on the week.

"I tell them just to go have fun. It's all about them and interacting with the fans," Hunter said. "I saw that EK (Kendricks) was kind of nervous, tight, at first, and I'm like, 'Man, just relax. Have fun.' "

Cook is taking the tips to heart.

"I've been listening to [Rhodes] and Griff', Harry, all of those guys," he said. "They've been telling me, 'Enjoy the moment.' "

Like a proud older brother, Rhodes spoke highly of – and poked a little fun at – his younger teammates.

"I am happy for those guys. Oh, man. EK is stoked, Dalvin can't stop smiling and running around. C.J. doesn't know where to go," Rhodes laughed on Wednesday. "I'm just happy to see those guys. I feel like when I first came, that's how I was. But it's just [great] to see those guys come here and just enjoy the camaraderie and enjoy this experience."

Cousins specifically highlighted his offensive comrades.

"They both deserve it so much," Cousins said of Cook and Ham. "I'm so glad [C.J. is] here and can be here with his family.

"Hopefully we can get Dalvin, C.J. and myself in the game at the same time and have a Vikings backfield," he added. "It will be fun."

In addition to reuniting with Vikings teammates, Cook, Ham and Kendricks appreciate the opportunity to connect with and learn from players around the league.

Asked if any opponents appeared larger – or smaller – in person and without pads and a helmet, Cook laughed.

"Za'Darius Smith. He's big," Cook quipped of the Packers edge rusher. "I did know he was big, though. But I think the receiver from the Saints, [Deonte Harris], he's a little smaller than I thought. You see some of these guys up close, and you're like, 'Man.' "

The Vikings are looking forward to Sunday's Pro Bowl matchup, which will take place at Camping World Stadium at 2 p.m. (CT).

"I know it's going to be a good game," Cook said. "We've got a great defensive team and a great offensive team. This is a premier matchup, and I think it's going to be a good game. I tip my hat to both teams."