Bryce Brown celebrates his touchdown in the second quarter of the Eagles' 31-22 loss to the Patriots. (USA Today Images)
Chris Polk has had an impressive camp.
Bryce Brown had an impressive game.
Brown showed why he finished last season as the Eagles' No. 2 back in Friday night's 31-22 preseason loss to New England (see Instant Replay).
Polk started the game and gained only seven yards on four carries, with a long of four.
"I think I did OK," Polk said. "I definitely left a lot of yards out there but was able to block for a touchdown (the pass to DeSean Jackson), so that's always good. It's a team sport."
A second-year pro, Polk played in seven games last season, recorded nary a rushing attempt, and missed the final eight games with turf toe. He knows he still needs to work on one trait of all successful running backs: patience.
"There were holes, but they were just closing real fast," he said. "I've just got to be more patient and set them up a little bit more."
Brown, also in his second season, erupted with rushing performances of 178 and 169 yards in his first two starts as a rookie. He rushed for just 76 total yards in his final four games but more importantly finished the season with four fumbles (three lost).
Brown on Friday replaced Polk and ran for 22 yards on five carries, including an 8-yard touchdown. Better yet, he neither fumbled nor dropped a pass. He caught both passes intended for him for 19 yards. After the game, Brown was not around to comment.
But Kelly was and compared the Polk/Brown competition to the one between Michael Vick and Nick Foles.
“I think those guys are a lot like the quarterbacks. I wouldn’t read too much into who played first," Kelly said. "I thought Bryce played really well tonight, and Chris has played really well in camp and did some nice things. We feel like besides LeSean [McCoy], we have a couple of guys that can play, so we really were just rolling those guys.”
The other two backs on the roster are veteran Felix Jones, best known for failing to meet expectations with Dallas, and undrafted rookie Matthew Tucker, best known for failing his conditioning test.
Jones rushed eight times for 31 yards and had just one reception despite being targeted four times; he had one ugly drop in the final minutes. Tucker rushed 10 times for 33 yards and lost two yards on the game's final play, first-and-goal from the 2.
Riley Cooper's return to normalcy continues.
Friday's game was Cooper's first appearance in front of fans at Lincoln Financial Field since the video surfaced of him making a racial slur at a concert in June.
"I felt great," he said. "It was great to get the first-game jitters out of the way."
After making his only catch of the game -- a 19-yarder from Michael Vick in the first quarter -- Cooper received more cheers than boos.
Or so he was told.
"I didn't pay attention," Cooper said. "I know I had that one catch and people said it was a good reaction."
In his first game since tearing his ACL and MCL against Baltimore last September, center Jason Kelce didn't feel limited by his healing knee.
"We've been hitting for a while, and I've been able to feel the strength and stability behind it for a while now," he said. "It was just full-go -- typical preseason game."
Kelce said he feels almost as good as he did before the injury.
"Yeah for the most part," he said. "There's still some mental things with the new offense and the calls and everything that the offensive line is still getting used to, and that will happen throughout training camp, but physically everything felt pretty much back to normal."
Kelly on Thursday said that Brandon Boykin would start at cornerback with Bradley Fletcher. But Boykin didn't start. Brandon Hughes did instead.
"I was wrong," said Kelly, who explained that it was defensive coordinator Billy Davis' decision to start Hughes.