C.J. Ham is now ready to upgrade from the TownePlace Suites.
Ham, the Duluth native and Augustana graduate, intensified his apartment search Sunday after he was one of 10 players signed onto the Vikings practice squad. Now he’s comfortable enough to start paying by the month instead of by the night, joined recently by his wife, Stephanie, and two-month-old daughter after a four-month stretch of mostly uncertainty and hotel towels.
“Hopefully by the end of the week,” Ham said Sunday night. “Would be really nice to have a place to live.”
There are no guarantees on a NFL practice squad, where players can be cut or plucked onto another active roster at any time. Ham, a running back, was part of nine Vikings players to re-sign onto the practice squad just 24 hours after each was told their services would not be needed for the active roster.
The final wave of cuts began Friday. Ham was one who made it to work Saturday, where he and fellow rookies scanned the Winter Park locker room, counting down the roster before figuring 15 more needed to go.
“You look around and have no idea who it is,” Ham said.
Then the messenger came for Ham. It was time to meet with General Manager Rick Spielman, who provided a silver lining: Don’t clean out your locker, we’re interested in bringing you back. At least eight others received a similar edict and, after another 24 hours of limbo, the same result.
“Still getting text messages and calls from people saying how happy everybody is for me,” Ham said. “Because yesterday, to the outside viewers, they see I was released and they see I was cut, so everybody was kind of down.”
By now, he’s grown accustom to the NFL’s unstable ground for undrafted players. Ham wasn’t even a priority target by the Vikings after this year’s draft, instead earning a contract as a tryout player alongside signed rookies at a May minicamp.
Ham’s pass protection ability helped elevate him above fellow rookie running back Jhurell Pressley, who was claimed by the Packers on Sunday. Ham finished the preseason with 44 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
Now that he’s got one foot in the proverbial door, he said he’s feeling comfortable enough knowing this could lead anywhere.
“But you know me and my family think it’s a good idea to get an apartment instead of just living out of the hotel,” Ham said. “That can get a little bit expensive. We’re just looking forward to the opportunities.”