Eagles Wake-Up Call: Increased Role For Polk?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

When Chris Polk got a shot last year, he made the most of it.

Granted, it wasn’t a particularly big shot, but it was something – 11 carries for 98 yards and four grabs for 61. In the December win against the Lions, Polk ran four times for 50 yards and a score. In the regular-season finale against the Cowboys, he had a 34-yard catch.

Overall, Polk played 46 snaps on offense.

The Eagles made changes at the running back position this offseason, dealing Bryce Brown to the Bills and acquiring Darren Sproles from the Saints. But Polk remains, and the third-year back received a pretty nice endorsement from Chip Kelly earlier this week.

“He’s really had a great off‑season,” Kelly said. “He worked extremely hard rehabbing his shoulders, but he was one of our key special teams players for us and starting to… you look at from probably the Detroit game on, he had a couple really big runs in that game and starting to develop as a back and just trying to figure it out again where he fits in that piece.

“Obviously we have a talented one in LeSean [McCoy], and then when you add Sproles to the mix, where does Chris fit into it? But I think in terms of what he has done in the offseason, I think he’s really put himself in the picture.”

In all likelihood, if McCoy and Sproles stay healthy, Polk won’t see the field much offensively. But the key question is: What happens if McCoy misses time?

Sproles has averaged just 4.3 rushes per game the last three seasons and turns 31 later this month. The guess here is the Eagles would go to a running back by committee if McCoy were to get injured, but Polk would carry a heavier load than Sproles. Other wild cards like Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey and David Fluellen could make some noise this summer as well.

“We’ve got a great stable of backs so realistically it’s gonna be LeSean taking most of the carries,” Polk said. “So whatever I can do to get on the field and help the team win, I’m gonna do it – whether it’s blocking, catching, special teams. …The more you can do, the better off you are making the team.”

Polk injured his right shoulder in an October game against the Bucs, but played through it. He had surgery five months ago and has not been limited in practices. Polk’s left shoulder injury was the one that played a big factor in him going undrafted in 2012.

“I just feel more free,” he said. “Now I don’t have to wear both shoulder harnesses so I’ll be able to move my arms better, be able to move a little faster, do a little more.”

During practices open to the media, Polk has been running mostly with the third team. Unlike a lot of backs coming out of college, he has always been good in pass protection. And Polk had seven special teams tackles last season.

Currently he’s practicing at 222 pounds, but Polk wants to get that down to between 215 and 217.

“It’s hard staying on that diet,” he said. “I love Oreos.”

Two summers ago, Polk was nervous on cut-down day, not knowing if he’d ever play an NFL snap. Now he’s got a chance to stick for the third consecutive year and perhaps have his biggest role yet.

“Me not getting drafted, me being here in a great organization, they made me really feel like I was at home,” he said. “Them showing that they believe in me, to keep me here after these years… it’s up to me to hold up my end of the bargain now. That’s what I intend to do.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

“It appears the Eagles got a steal” in Jordan Matthews, says one national writer. Here’s what they’re saying.

Alex Henery is looking to bounce back in 2014.

Some really cool shots from Tuesday’s practice, courtesy of photographer Jeff Fusco.

Three Kelly leftovers on Sproles, Lane Johnson and Mychal Kendricks.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Analyst Brian Baldinger talks to the Daily News’ Les Bowen about Matthews:

“I think you just have to look at everything about him – the size, the character, the person. You can see him being successful here,” said Baldinger, a former Eagles offensive lineman. “There’s something special about the kid . . . I think what we’ve seen this offseason is that divas don’t win championships, and this kid I think is about as far away from a diva as there is.”

Vinny Curry chats with the Daily News’ Paul Domowitch about his role and his journey:

After getting deactivated for the Eagles’ first two games last season, Curry, who had never lacked for confidence, was wondering what the hell was going on.

“I was confused,” he said. “Just confused about different things. I was reading a lot of the things you guys were writing. Just real confused and not knowing what was going on.”

COMING UP

A few leftovers to get to today.

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