Eagle Eye: Areas of concern
Chris Polk rushed for a touchdown on Sunday in his first career offensive snap during the Eagles' 52-20 loss to the Broncos. (AP)
He waited a year. Then he waited a month. And when Chris Polk finally heard Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley bark out his name and tell him to get out on the field for the first time in his life, he didn’t believe what he was hearing.
“At first I was kind of in disbelief,” Polk said. “Duce called my name, ‘Chris get in.’ I was like, ‘What?’ I gave him a look? He was like, ‘Come on, get in,’ so I just ran out there and just tried to make the best of my moment.”
Polk made the best of his first career offensive snap by running four yards for a touchdown that brought the Eagles within 14-13 in the second quarter Sunday.
He finished with three carries for 33 yards and two catches for 19 yards, netting 52 yards on just six snaps.
“Come in and get your first carry in a situation like that and to score, to make some plays when you get your chance, it’s a real confidence booster,” Polk said.
“But you have to keep getting better. You can’t win next week’s game off what you did last week. You just have to continue to get better and pay attention to little things and put it all out there.”
Polk got 64 snaps last year, all on special teams, and through three games this year, he had 51 snaps, all on special teams.
But Polk has always been one of those guys who you figured could produce if he ever got a shot. He always looked great in the preseason games (49-for-193 rushing, 8-for-66 receiving the last two years), and all his teammates always spoke highly of him. But because he was buried behind LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown, he never got a chance.
“It’s definitely been hard, but coming off last season, you see it’s a long season and the coaches obviously know what they’re doing,” Polk said. “So whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities.”
Polk, undrafted out of Washington, showed coach Chip Kelly enough in the preseason for Kelly to keep him, and he showed enough Sunday in Denver for Kelly to find a way to get him back on the field.
Brown had a nice 35-yard gain on a screen Sunday after a record-setting 2012 season -- he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 160 yards in each of his first two starts -- he’s averaging just 2.8 yards per carry this year on 23-for-64.
McCoy is going to get most of the snaps, but in this offense, two backs have to play. So maybe for the first time, there are going to be reps for Polk.
“I think Chris [earned] some playing time from [Sunday],” Kelly said. “I was really happy with him.
“We’ve been pleased with Chris in terms of what he's done for us so far from a special teams standpoint. And then when he got his opportunity, I thought he ran really hard. I thought he made a really nice decision on a pass route where we threw to him on the sideline and ended up being a nine‑yard gain for us.
“Chris is a guy on ... Sunday that caught our eye, and you're going to have to look at and say, ‘Hey, Chris is in the game.’”
Polk’s 52 yards from scrimmage are the most by an undrafted Eagle tailback since Reno Mahe had 61 vs. the Giants in 2005.
It’s the most yards by any Eagle playing offense for the first time in his career since Eric McCoo had 69 yards -- 54 rushing, 15 receiving -- in his only career game, vs. the Bengals on the final day of the 2004 season.
McCoo’s 69 yards are the most since 1950 by any NFL player who played in just one career game.
Back to Polk.
It’s not clear how Kelly will use the 5-foot-11, 220-pound back in the rotation, but it is clear that he’s earned more time.
“I think he’s a workhorse, man,” McCoy said. “He works hard every day, he has tons of talent, strong, physical, I like him. He’s a good back. That’s the thing about our backs here. Any time they get a shot to produce, they do produce, and he showed up on Sunday when he got his chance.”
Polk isn’t flashy, but he’s big, tough and strong and seems to have a good knack for reading the hole. He’s also a capable blocker, which only helps his chances to get more reps.
“I just want to be out there on the field, period,” Polk said. “Missing a whole year, not playing very much or even at all, and now having my name mentioned as being part of the rotation, it’s night and day. It just goes to show you good things come to those who wait.”
Polk was happy to hear that Kelly said he needs to find ways to get Polk on the field.
But he said ultimately, it doesn’t matter because he’s always prepared as if he’s going to play.
For 19 weeks in a row, he didn’t get the chance.
Now, one week and 52 yards later, he’s hoping he doesn’t have to wait quite so long for his next chance to get the ball.
“I’m just trying to contribute what I can do [for] the team,” he said. “I’m trying not to sit down anymore. It’s only the beginning. I just want to keep pushing.”