Polk: ‘I Didn’t Come To This League To Be a Cheerleader’

Philadelphia Eagles running back Chris Polk.When Chris Polk watched tape last year, he didn’t like what he saw.

“I saw myself on film, like man I don’t look too good, especially with those tight-fitting jerseys,” Polk said. “I’ve got to shed a few pounds.”

And so he did.

Polk said he has dropped 15 pounds this offseason and is currently practicing at 215.

“That’s where I want to be at, especially with this high-paced offense,” Polk said. “You’ve got to make people miss and run in space, catch it. You’ve got to have your wind. So it was the best thing to really fit this scheme, get down lighter, be faster, get your wind up.

“I was on that kind of diet where whatever you could find, eat,” Polk said. “But now, definitely more vegetables. I’ve got a meal plan with the strength coaches, working harder with the shakes and taking care of my body, taking my vitamins and doing what’s necessary.”

In his first season, Polk was active for seven games, but only played on special teams. Zero carries, zero receptions, zero offensive snaps for a player who averaged more than 22 touches per game during his final three seasons at Washington.

Asked what goals he has set for himself in 2013, Polk didn’t hesitate with his response.

“Play,” he said. “I don’t want to sit down no more. I didn’t come to this league to be a cheerleader, so I’ve just got to take care of my body. I just want to play.”

Chip Kelly’s offense is expected to rely on a heavy dose of the running game. Last year’s Oregon squad featured four different players who had at least 80 carries, and six different Ducks were credited with at least one rushing touchdown.

But Polk knows he has a difficult road ahead. The Eagles have LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown atop the depth chart. They also signed Felix Jones and added undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker out of TCU.

Polk got an up-close look at Kelly’s offense in college. His Washington teams went 0-4 against Oregon and were outscored, 174-62. Polk averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in four games against the Ducks.

“They would run all over us,” he said. “We weren’t ever able to keep up with them.”

Even at the lighter weight, Polk is still probably the most physical running back on the roster. His strengths are versatility (pass protection, catching the football) and the ability to run over defenders. While Polk feels faster, he knows he’s not McCoy or Brown. And he doesn’t think he’ll have to change his style to fit into Kelly’s’ scheme.

“The most important thing about a running back is stay true to your identity,” Polk said. “If you’re a ground and pound guy or a real shifty guy, you can’t try to run like someone else because doing what you do is what got you here. Doing what you do is what’s going to keep you here.”

Because of a shoulder injury, Polk went undrafted last year. But the Eagles signed him as a free agent, and Polk impressed the coaching staff during training camp and the preseason. He said he didn’t have any shoulder procedures in the offseason and is still confident he can play with the injury.

When Polk got a phone call from running backs coach Duce Staley last summer, he thought he was getting cut. But instead, Staley congratulated him on making the team. This year, he’s hoping not only to stick, but to get on the field.

“It’s very exciting to have an offense that features the running back, being that we run this high pace,” Polk said. “We’re going to have to rotate in guys because we can run like six plays in less than a minute. So I’m just really excited to put on the pads and see how this year ends up.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    Pretty ridiculous that Polk didn’t get a touch last season at all. Once the wheels completely fell off he should have gotten a few carries.

    • Bdawk20

      Andy and Marty always loved the thought of depth at RB, but never knew how to properly execute it.

  • JofreyRice

    It blows my mind that a guy could *make* the NFL while eating whatever he wants. These guys are world-class athletes looking for any advantage they can get, and this dude is getting extra horsey sauce at Arbys? His body composition was a big knock on him in the post-draft process in ’11–people saying he looked very soft. His performance might be markedly better with a focus on nutrition.

    I know Tucker is a little bigger, but I like what Polk might bring to the team. Powerful inside runner that can catch and run routes out of the backfield–he was converted from Wide Receiver. A running back corps of Lesean, Bryce, Felix & Polk would be a nice mix of skills.

    • Warhound

      The term “it never ceases to amaze me that…” is somewhat overused and hack; but, this is where it applies for me. It never ceases…that so many of these guys have such horrible nutritional habits. And, contrary to what many think a solid diet doesn’t have to be costly!

      • JofreyRice

        Probably not anymore overused or hackneyed than “it blows my mind”. Re: Diet, fully agreed, just seems like he’s got bad habits he’s got to break.

        • Warhound

          Ha, yeah – and I hadn’t noticed your turn of phrase. I’ve been trying to better my language use. I’ve replaced lots of “awesome” with remarkable (worthy of remarking on) or notable (worthy of notation).

          • Richard Colton

            It literally blew my mind when you said that.

          • Warhound

            Ha ha ha – you literally made me lol!

    • Johnny Domino

      Don’t hate on the horsey sauce.

      • Arby1

        Don’t hate on Arby’s.

  • Andy

    He should get his opportunities. As he said, they are going to need multiple backs to run the offense and one of the guys ahead of him is likely to get injured at some point during the season, putting him on the field.

    • Dominik

      But will Kelly keep 4 RBs on the roster? Sounds like Practice Squad for Polk and/or Tucker, if Jones stays healthy and is in good shape. I don’t know if they’ll be on PS for long (maybe there will be another team who sees value in one of them), but that’s kind of the most realistic variant I can think of.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        Personally I’d rather give the 3rd spot to Polk or Tucker, assuming that Jones isn’t head and shoulders above them.

        • Warhound

          I think they’ll keep 4, but yeah Polk could be on the PS. Which player would other teams take: Polk or Tucker? That’s the guy on the 53 man roster.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Tough call, what’s the cutoff for practice squad eligibility? It’s gotta be around 7 games, Polk may not be eligible.

          • cliff henny

            it’s 8 games and can only have 2 yrs on PS.

          • Warhound

            here are some of the more broken down elements of the rules as it relates to eligibility:
            Can not have spent the previous two seasons on the practice squad (there are allowances for a third season, provided the team he’s employed with maintains a full 53-man roster throughout the entire season, or time he’s with the team);
            Players without an accrued season of NFL experience (For the practical purposes of our discussion without the complexity of legal dribble that protects players and the owners, the critical part to remember is six games or more during a regular season constitutes an accrued season.);
            Free agent players who were on the active list fewer than nine games on their only accrued season(s).
            The second rule applies here – yeah no PS for Polk.
            From: http://www.cincyjungle.com/2012/9/1/3284825/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-nfls-practice-squad

          • theycallmerob

            nice post, obliged.

          • theycallmerob

            In response to that, I’d imagine Polk would be more appealing, based on track record and the 1 year of NFL “experience”. Nothing I’ve seen, read, or heard about Tucker makes me think another team would be anxiously awaiting to scoop him off our PS.

            And for what it’s worth, I see Kelly keeping 4 RB’s on the roster, with 3 active on gamedays. Between the tempo, expectation of a run-centric offense, and the risk of injuries, I don’t see how he could afford to carry less.

        • Dominik

          Although you have to ask why they would sign Jones if they don’t plan on keeping him on the roster. Yeah, Chippah loves competetion and I love that he loves competition ;), but if you really want to build on Polk and/or Tucker, why ‘steal’ reps from them at practice? They need them, definitely.

          And don’t forget the fact that Brown, with all the talent he flashed, has to learn ball security. We can hope, maybe even assume that he will learn that, but what if the fumbling continues? He can’t see a lot of snaps with his snaps/fumbling ratio from last season.

          With the system we are running, you need at least 2 good (!) RBs, and it would be good to have a solid 3rd. Shady can’t handle it alone.

          So, we are far away from having a problem at this position, and it’s probably the savest bet to say we keep 4 RBs (3 active) and hope that no team claims Tucker of the PS. But we shouldn’t forget that we need a lot of depth talent at that position, because it is crucial, obviously, if you run 60 % of the plays.

  • dislikedisqus

    I’ll never forget the last preseason game of 12 when he ran over a DT at the goal line. How the old regime ignored him in short yardage situations is a mystery.