Chris Polk showing how to pick up the blitz
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- One of the most entertaining drills to watch at training camp doesn't involve a football.
It's the blitz pickup drill. And it's where running backs must excel if they hope to carry the ball in the Eagles' offense.
Rookie running back Chris Polk blocked frequently in college because Washington ran a pro-style offense, so he came to camp prepared. During the drill, the 5-foot-11, 222-pound Polk pancaked cornerback Kevin Thomas, drawing cheers from his offensive teammates and foreshadowing what was to come during 11-on-11s.
In what was the play of the day, cornerback Brandon Hughes entered the pocket and suddenly was launched in the air like Batman in his initial meeting with Bane.
"I actually messed up on that play because I went to the wrong side," Polk said. "I knew he was coming, so I just had to get back there quick. I don't want the quarterback getting hit on my behalf, so that's something I try to hang my hat on."
The Huskies' offense has given Polk an edge over fellow rookie Bryce Brown, for whom pass protection is a new experience. During blitz pickup drill, veteran safety O.J. Atogwe swatted Brown's shoulder and easily bypassed him.
At 6-feet, 220 pounds, Brown certainly has the body to block -- he's built like a tank -- but he's still learning.
"It's getting better every day," Brown said. "It's really just about competing. The rest of it is coaching. It takes time. It takes reps and doing it because looking at it and being taught is a lot different from when you go out there and are actually doing it."
The more blitz pickup drills, the better.
"It's really helpful. It gives you time -- you kind of slow it down, you and that guy," Brown said. "You don't have that many distractions. You can focus in on him and just really work your technique."
And watch how Polk does it.
"Once you learn the protections, you're fine," Polk said. "Things change every week. You've just got to be a student of the game -- pass protection is an attitude. You've got to bring your attitude with it."
Fullback Stanley Havili and Thomas did so during one rep, which ended with them trading jabs to the shoulder before being separated.
But the duo that exhibited the most attitude was LeSean McCoy and safety Kurt Coleman. Now in his fourth season, McCoy has mastered the drill. He and Coleman twice locked up like a pair of rams, and a pumped up McCoy celebrated his victory as if he'd just scored.
"It's all fun. It's great work for both of us," Coleman said.
"I think that's the biggest transition from college to the NFL. Running backs really have to protect the QB because with so many different looks, your running back is asked a lot, and Shady is a great blocker. To add to the repertoire of his game, he's really complete."