C.J. Ham’s stay on the COVID-19 reserve list was a short one.
The Minnesota Vikings on Saturday activated the fullback, clearing the way for the Duluth native to play Sunday, Nov. 22, against Dallas at U.S. Bank Stadium. Ham was placed on the list Thursday, and Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said on Friday he could be activated in time to face the Cowboys.
The Vikings also elevated guard Aviante Collins and long snapper Andrew DePaola from the practice squad for the game. Collins will provide depth due to Ezra Cleveland being out Sunday because of an ankle injury. Brett Jones will replace Cleveland in the lineup at right guard.
DePaola and kicker Tristan Vizcaino were both signed to the practice squad after working out Saturday morning, filling the two open spots on the 16-man squad. DePaola then was elevated to the active roster, meaning he could on Sunday replace Austin Cutting, who has had bad snaps in each of the past two games. The Vikings did not make a roster move on Cutting.
DePaola is in his sixth NFL season. He originally signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and was the Buccaneers’ regular-season long snapper from 2014-16. He was with Chicago in 2017 and with Oakland in 2018, when he was lost for the season in Week 1 due to a torn ACL. He hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since then.
“He’s ready to go,” said DePaola’s agent, Sean Stellato. “He’s worked very, very hard to get into a position where he can be an important piece in games and special teams. … I’ve been in this business for 15 years, and his work ethic and his leadership and his ability to be resilient is right up there with anybody I’ve worked with.”
The Vikings have had a number of special teams issues the past two games, namely on Dec. 8 against Detroit having two Britton Colquitt punts blocked and last Monday at Chicago having Cutting botch a snap on an extra point and Cordarrelle Patterson return a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown.
Nevertheless, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Friday the team had a “good week” of practice on special teams.
“They’ve worked real hard and we’ve grinded them really hard this week,” Zimmer said. “I’m anticipating it’s going to show up.”
The Vikings worked out a number of specialists in the past week. Last Sunday, they brought in long snapper John Wirtel, kicker Casey Bednarski, who played at Minnesota State Mankato, kicker Nick Rose and punter-kicker Drew Galitz. On Saturday, in addition to DePaola and Vizcaino, they worked out kicker Nick Vogel and punter Dom Maggio. On Monday, they have been scheduled to work out long snapper Kyle Nelson and kicker Austin Barnard.
While kicker Dan Bailey’s job is not in jeopardy, Vizcaino will provide some security during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. After kicking at the University of Washington from 2014-17 and being undrafted, he has spent time in the NFL with Cincinnati and Dallas. He appeared in all four of the Bengals’ preseason games in 2019, going 4 of 7 on field-goal attempts and converting all three of extra-point attempts.