After each game, Vikings fullback C.J. Ham makes a beeline to midfield in search of one person.
“I always make sure I dap up the other fullback if there is one,” Ham said with a smile. “There aren’t too many of us left, so I’m always riding with the other fullbacks in the league.”
A quick search of every NFL roster shows that at least a 1/3 of the teams don’t employ a fullback, and if they do, that player, more often than not, is mostly used as a lead blocker.
Luckily for Ham, that’s not how offensive advisor Gary Kubiak operates. He sees the fullback as a useful weapon, akin to how the San Francisco 49ers use Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
“It’s very important,” Kubiak said. “It gives us a chance to be flexible.”
In the current scheme, Ham and fellow fullback Khari Blasingame can find themselves lined up in the backfield, on the line of scrimmage or split out wide — sometimes all in the same possession. They are used as lead blockers, ball carriers, pass protector, and pass catchers, very different than how most teams use what is viewed as a dying position.
“Just a lot of opportunity to contribute,” Blasingame said. “That’s why I came here. I felt like it was a good fit.”
While it’s pretty much a guarantee the Vikings will only keep one fullback on the roster, with Ham likely having the advantage based on experience, coach Mike Zimmer has spoken highly of both players.
“They are both athletic former tailback guys that are smart and tough,” Zimmer said. “C.J. is very important because there are a lot of things that he can do. Khari is a very good athlete. Those guys are hard to find.”
This shift under Kubiak and offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski has been a welcome change for Ham, especially considering how his role shrank significantly under former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo last season.
“It really just allows me to play,” Ham said. “I’m more a part of the offense now. You know, obviously blocking is still my main job; it’s just nice to be out there doing some other things, too.
It’s also way easier for Ham to get into a rhythm now that he’s on the field more consistently.
“You get into the flow of the game a little more instead of just coming in a handful of times,” he said. “I’m just happy on on this team to have another opportunity to be great.”
And the fact that Ham has Blasingame to push him only helps.
“I’ve just been trying to help him as much as I can,” Ham said. “We push each other. It helps to have somebody to compete with every day. That brings the best out of me.”
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