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Timeout with C.J. Ham


Improving the Vikings run game has become a personal vendetta for C.J. Ham.

After averaging just 93.3 rushing yards per game in 2018, Minnesota through two games has racked up 370 yards on the ground.

"It was expressed to us last season that we needed to run the ball better, and we brought the right people in to do that – the right system, the right players – and we take that as a challenge," Ham said. "It's one of our things. We want to go out there and establish dominance just like everybody else, but the emphasis on running the ball is super important to us."

The position room is a full one this year. Ham is joined by four running backs – Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah – as well as practice squad fullback Khari Blasingame.

Upon an observation that Minnesota's fullbacks wear their hair short and the running backs all sport longer hair, Ham smiled.

"This has been talked about before," he laughed. "We like to joke around and say there's definitely a type, I guess. But yeah, everyone else has dreads, and me and Khari both rock the same haircut, and we both wear glasses. We're also close to the same size."

Ham hasn't always held the fullback role, however.

After playing running back through high school and college, he signed with the Vikings practice squad in 2015. Following the 2016 season, Ham transitioned to fullback and was elevated to the 53-man roster.

Having experience at both positions enables Ham to be more versatile on the field.

"I'd like to think it makes me a little more valuable, to be able to go out there and not necessarily just lead block, but [they can] align me out wide or in the slot, or even in the running back position," Ham said. "When I'm out there, I can still do the things that the running backs can do."

When he does play the conventional blocker role, Ham often is bulldozing space for running back Dalvin Cook, who through two games has rattled off 265 yards on the ground.

Ham called it "super easy" to block for Cook.

"Dalvin's an unbelievable running back, and when you've got a running back like that, you don't necessarily have to do too much. You just have to make sure you do your job. He does special things," Ham said. "And for him to be as selfless as he is, it's great. We all want success for our whole offense, and it doesn't matter who's doing it."

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster for the 2019 season.

We caught up with Ham for a Timeout:

Q: What is it like to be a fullback in the Vikings 2019 offense?

A: "It's a lot of fun. You could tell from the first game that the fullback is more involved in this offense," Ham said. "It's just really fun to be out there playing and help the team have an opportunity to win, help the team have success."

Q: How do you like to re-charge when you're not in football mode?

A: "Really, just playing with my kids. When I get home, there is no 'I've got to chill' or sit down and watch TV. As soon as I get home, Skylar's yelling, 'Daddy!' and it's time to play and do whatever we need to do. Playing with Skylar and Stella, that's time that I really cherish."

Q: Your wife, Steph, jokes about them being daddy's girls. Is that something you enjoy?

A: "I do enjoy it. Especially on a bad day or something, I get to walk in the door and hear my [oldest] daughter yell, 'Daddy's home!' It just makes everything better."

Q: Is it fun that Skylar is a little older now and understands game days?

A: "It's awesome. … I was wearing a sleeve on my arm and she said, 'Oh, did you get hurt in football?' Just the fact that she knows what football is, it's really cool."

Q: I have to bring up the home video of Skylar's dance moves and your reaction…

A: "We dance all the time. We play music, dance in the kitchen when we cook and all that stuff. But that was shocking (laughs). I mean, I've seen her shake her butt before – little kids do that, it happens – but just the way she did it … I had no idea that was going to happen. It's funny because that was probably the second or third video we took. I was doing a dance move, and she was trying to copy me. Steph was trying to get a video of her copying me on that dance, and before I could get to that part, Skylar busted that out. She had her own move she wanted to show me, I guess."

Q: Did you expect it to go viral the way that it did?

A: "No. I mean, it's a funny video. Looking back on it now, it's a funny video. But I don't even know how to go viral, to be honest with you."

Q: What is one fun fact about you that fans might not know?

A: "My first love was skateboarding. That's all I did up until I was about 14 years old. My dream was to get sponsored and be a professional skateboarder. To this day, I can still do most of the tricks I was able to do as a kid."

Q: Which teammates would be the best skateboarders?

A: "Eric Kendricks. Me and him talk about it all the time. But that's pretty much it. And I'm probably better than he is – who knows?"