Philadelphia Eagles running back is entering his third season in the NFL this year, and while he's lacked playing major playing time up to this point, he isn't lacking confidence.
"Definitely [feel] a lot more [confident] because reality is the best teacher. So you know just getting in the game, getting the feel for it, getting tackled, getting used to game speed... that really helps. Last year I kind of felt like I was walking on eggshells because I didn't have a lot of experience so I was out there just wide eyed. But now the game is starting to slow down for me and I'm learning a lot from Darren [Sproles] and Shady so I can take my game to the next level."
Polk was very effective in limited playing time last season. On 11 attempts, Polk ran for 98 yards (a whopping 8.9 average) and 3 TDs. Don't forget to count his 4 catches for 61 yards (15.3 average) either. That's a total of 159 yards on 15 touches (10.6 average). Polk's three scores matched the total that former first round pick Trent Richardson had in more than TEN TIMES as many attempts.
I wouldn't even call those numbers surprising based on how Polk look during training camp and preseason in 2013. Polk showed up to camp a much slimmer running back than he was in his rookie season. He even looked like he could beat out fellow second year running back Bryce Brown at the time but it didn't work out that way. Brown spent most of the season as the team's number two running back. That changed a little bit as the season went on. Polk's snap count increased later in the season. Over 70% of his total offensive snaps came in the last four weeks.
Polk underwent a major offseason operation on his shoulder, but he's healthy now. The challenge, as he notes, is to get back in shape after spending the offseason recovering from surgery.
I want to be anywhere from 215 to 217. Right now I'm 222 so I have a ways to go. It's hard to stay on that diet, man. I love Oreos so it's hard.
(And really, who doesn't love Oreos?)
Along with the challenge of losing weight, Polk also faces the challenge of a crowded backfield. In front of him on the imaginary depth chart are two very talented running backs in the form of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. Polk has an uphill battle when it comes to earning play time, but at least he does bring a unique skill set to the table with the physicality he runs with.
So don't feel too bad for Polk. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly recently had some high praise for him.
He's really had a great off‑season. 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 [RB] LeSean [McCoy], and then when you add [RB Darren] Sproles to the mix, where does Chris fit into it? But I think in terms what has he done in the off‑season, I think he's really put himself in the picture.
Kelly's line about special teams is key here. By now it's apparent he really values that phase of the game. Kelly's backup players need to be good special teams players, so a comment like this one bodes well for Polk's future with the team.
At this point, Polk seems on pace for another year as the team's third string running back. There's no doubt Polk will get some touches in Chip Kelly's run heavy offense. Just don't expect too many. But do expect him to make the most of those opportunities.