Minnesota veterans CJ Ham, Adam Thielen navigating Vikings offensive overhaul

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Now in his seventh year in the NFL Duluth’s own C.J. Ham is part of a big shakeup in his hometown team with new head coach Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips, but by day six of training camp at TCO Performance Center the veteran Viking said things are already starting to fall into place. 

“There’s been a great energy, everybody loves to come to work,” Ham said after practice Tuesday. “This new coaching staff is phenomenal. These guys are super smart and they definitely want the best out of us.”

Implementing his hard working Denfeld Hunter mentality Ham has established himself as a fullback force, putting up a combined career-best 125 yards receiving and 34 yards rushing last year for the land of purple and gold. 

“It’s been a blessing to play in my home state for this long, I know that’s definitely not the norm,” Ham said. “It’s extremely a blessing to be here.”

Now the 2019 Pro Bowler is just over five weeks away from kicking off yet another year alongside old friend and fellow Minnesotan, wide receiver Adam Thielen.

“He’s one of the best teammates there is,” Thielen said about his teammate Ham. “Honestly I’ve learned a lot from him, the way that he takes care of business, the way that he’s a pro. Being a Duluth guy we played against each other in high school, college, and then playing together in the NFL, that’s pretty special.”

Since starting with the Vikings in 2014, after signing with the team a year before, Thielen is now gearing up to start under just his second head coach in his NFL career in O’Connell.

“It’s exciting from two sides because first being a fan of the Vikings since I was a little kid, and then now being with the organization for 10 years, it’s exciting. I feel like the pieces that they put in place are here to stay and to sustain success.”

The first chance to glimpse new Vikings systems in play action will be their preseason opener visiting the Las Vegas Raiders Sunday, August 14. Their season opener is set for September 11 when they will host the Green Bay Packers.