Four months ago, Chris Polk was believed to be one of the top running backs in the 2012 NFL draft coming out of the University of Washington. By the end of day three of the draft, however, Polk found himself unselected and with an uncertain future standing before him.
Polk spent this summer trying to prove to the Philadelphia Eagles—who signed him immediately following the draft as an undrafted free agent—that his surgically-repaired shoulder was of no concern and that he deserved a place on their roster.
It looks like he proved his point.
The Eagles cut 22 players on Friday evening, and it had to be much to the pleasure of the rookie running back to learn his name was not amongst those with the misfortune of being listed. After so much doubt, first about his health and then his need to be on the Eagles roster with fellow rookie Bryce Brown believed to likely beat him out for the third tailback spot, the Eagles flipped the script and decided Polk was too good to let walk.
“Every time he touches the ball something positive happened,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a Q&A session with reporters on Friday (via Philly.com). “He really has the skill set that fits this offense. He can catch. He can pass protect. He can run inside and outside. He did everything that was asked for to make this football team.”
Of the four Eagles tailbacks, Polk is the most adept in pass protection. As a result, there has been a lot of speculation about him being used as a fullback. At this time, there has been nothing shown on the football field to indicate the Eagles plan to use him in such a role.
Polk made his last argument for a roster spot in his impressive performance against the New York Jets in the Eagles’ preseason finale. He carried the ball 14 times for 61 yards (4.4 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
“This night meant the world to me,” Polk said following the Eagles’ 28-10 victory in the finale. “This was our last chance to make an impression, not only for these coaches but all the other coaches out there. Your resume is your film and I just wanted to leave it all out there.”
On one occasion, Polk bowled through a Jets defender with ease, displaying the punishing running style he became so renowned for at the University of Washington. Such a brutal style of play makes a fantastic complement to the speedy trio of LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown.
“I know there’s a concern with my shoulder,” Polk said, when asked if he thought that play proved his shoulder was better than many feared back in April. “I played three years with it and never missed a practice, never missed a game, so it’s really not an issue for me. I’m still going to run the same whether it’s the first carry or the last carry.”
Polk was finally able to accomplish one of his goals in the preseason finale: he scored a touchdown. On the Eagles’ final credible drive of the game, Polk carried the ball five times for 26 yards, finally punching it in from three yards out. Polk displayed his pleasure on the field with one of the most hysterical dances to be seen this preseason.
Now, The Incredible Polk can say he achieved another one of his goals.
“Making the Eagles would mean everything to me,” he said following the game.
What role the Eagles plan to play Polk in is unknown. Most teams do not carry four tailbacks, and when they do, that fourth man on the depth chart does not see the field all too often. Even if used as a fullback—which is highly unlikely—his presence on the field would probably be quite scarce. The Eagles used a single-back formation on 73 percent of their offensive plays last season, according to the Football Outsiders Almanac 2012.
Polk is not all too concerned with how he is used, he’s just proud to be an Eagle and he is willing to do anything to keep it that way.
“If they want me to do special teams, I’m going to do special teams,” he said. “If they want me to block, I’m going to block. If they want me to play receiver, I’ll do whatever it takes.”