Vikings’ Hometown Hero Joins Teammates at Pro Bowl

Verdict Is in for Ham
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

After an underwhelming season that ended with a 7-10 record, it was unsurprising that the players of the Minnesota Vikings didn’t get as much recognition for accolades as in the previous year. But some players still earned some honors. Long snapper Andrew DePaola was named second-team All-Pro and is heading to his second consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl.

Vikings’ Hometown Hero Joins Teammates at Pro Bowl

The second Viking to draw Pro Bowl honors was pass-rusher Danielle Hunter, who produced a career-high 16.5 sacks in 2023 and had perhaps the best season of his career.

Hometown Hero Joins Teammates at Pro Bowl
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Those two players were part of the initial Pro Bowl roster, but now a third guy will join them. With the San Francisco 49ers advancing to the Super Bowl with a comeback win over the Detroit Lions, fullback Kyle Juszczyk will not be available, so his replacement, C.J. Ham, will take his spot.

The 30-year-old will participate in his second Pro Bowl, the first one came in 2019. Juszczyk is an eight-time Pro Bowler and is widely regarded as the best player at the position. His trip to the Super Bowl in 2019 also opened the door for Ham, who probably has done enough to earn more Pro Bowl nods but unfortunately has to match up with undoubtedly the best fullback in today’s game.

Another Minnesotan
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Ham has been a team captain multiple times and is a highly valued player in the locker room. When Kevin O’Connell arrived in 2022, it was expected that he would implement a Sean McVay-style offense, and those don’t have fullbacks.

But the veteran was too good to let go, and O’Connell found a role for him, although that role was much smaller than under Mike Zimmer’s tenure. His snap numbers dipped from at least 350 in three straight seasons to only 169 in 2022. That number climbed to 216 in 2023. He is also an important member of the special teams.

Ham’s number of touches declined to a career-low eight in 2023, and he recorded 25 receiving yards on seven catches, and his lone rush gained seven yards. His most significant contributions came as a blocker, and he started to be a frequent third-down running back as he is a superb blocker and can keep defenders away from the quarterback.

Vikings Pro Bowler Could Be Facing Roster Cut
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There’s not much room for a fullback in O’Connell’s scheme, but he has proven to be a valuable player for the team.

Ham went undrafted in 2016 out of Augustana and was signed following a tryout at the rookie minicamp. At that point, Ham was still viewed as a running back. After his first training camp, he was cut but signed with the practice squad.

His switch to fullback was announced in 2017, and he made the roster this time. Since then, Ham has appeared in 113 games with Minnesota, catching 77 passes for 635 yards and two touchdowns while adding 104 yards and three scored on 37 rushes.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikes could save some cap space by releasing their veteran, especially as O’Connell doesn’t seem to value the position as much as his predecessor. However, they could’ve cut Ham last season and decided to extend his contract, making a divorce in 2024 unlikely.

The Duluth native will participate in his second Pro Bowl weekend.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt