Friends, opposites Polk & Brown battle for job
One spot. Two guys.
Two very, very different guys.
After LeSean McCoy and second-year running back Dion Lewis, there’s a competition brewing for the third and final running back position.
Bryce Brown vs. Chris Polk. These two guys have become good friends since meeting at rookie camp in mid-May but are opposites in plenty of ways.
“I think we complement each other,” Polk said. “He’s a shifty, really explosive, really fast running back and I’m the kinda slower but tough yards, physical and all that.
And it’s very likely only one will make the team.
They’re not just opposites in terms of their style of play either. Brown’s story is truly unique. He started his career at Tennessee but after rushing for 460 yards with a 4.6 average as a freshman, he transferred to Kansas State, where he sat out the 2010 season because of NCAA rules and then left the team after just one game and three carries last year.
Brown played in just 13 college games and has barely played at all in his last two seasons but was still a seventh-round draft pick.
“He’s probably a little less than familiar with anything,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said.
How about Polk? Well, maybe he had too much college experience. He played all four seasons at Washington, where he ran for 4,049 yards and 26 touchdowns on 799 carries and caught 79 passes. Polk has had two surgeries on his left shoulder, which is seemingly the reason he fell from an early-round hopeful to a non-drafted player.
“It feels great. No discomfort. I haven’t hurt it yet,” Polk said about his shoulder on Friday, as he turned to knock on his wooden locker. “I’ve played with it for over three years now. I’m used to it.”
Brown knows he hasn’t had as much experience as Polk. He just says it doesn’t matter all that much now that they’re both in the NFL fighting for a roster spot.
“That’s not even a concern as far as what we’re doing here,” Brown said. “My college career doesn’t reflect what we’re doing. His college career doesn’t reflect what we’re doing. Our coaches don’t care about our college careers. They got us because they feel like we can contribute to this football team.”
While Brown and Polk are competing for a job, they have become very good friends too. Polk said he’s the goofier one, while Brown is the more serious of the two. They’re even opposites off the field.
“We are pretty close,” Brown said. “We hang out a lot. As far as competing, that’s natural. I think everyone should compete. I think it makes everybody better.
“As far as making the team and all that, I think we’re both confident in that. We just want to do what we can to help the team win.”
But it’s a question of what
each can do to help the team.
Polk is certainly the more physical of the two, at least for now. He has the college experience and when asked what skill of his might help him make the team the most, he responded quickly: “blocking.”
On Friday morning, Mornhinweg said there has been some thought of making Polk a lead blocker, almost like a fullback. Being a lead blocker wouldn’t be something new for Polk, either. He said he filled that role quite often at Washington as a lead blocker for quarterback Jake Locker. Locker, now with the Tennessee Titans, rushed for nearly 2,000 yards during his college career.
“I could [lead block]. I did it for Jake when he was at college,” Polk said. “Whatever they want me to do, I’m gonna do. I’m trying to make the team.”
While Polk has had a ton of experience blocking, Brown hasn’t. In fact, he said before he came to the Eagles, he had never really blocked before. He wasn’t used in that capacity during his brief collegiate career. He especially had never been involved in pass protection.
“This is a learning process for me,” he said. “I’ve never done it before.”
The biggest thing Brown said he had to learn – and is still learning – is being able to read defenses. He said that reading defenses and blocking go hand in hand. If he’s able to read the D, he can adjust and know where they’re going to be and block them.
But what Brown does bring is a great athletic skill set. "He’s a big, strong, fast man," Mornhinweg said.
“I haven’t played football in a long time, so it’s a learning process,” Brown said. “The first year is the hardest for everyone. Everything is a work in progress.”E-mail Dave Zangaro at firstname.lastname@example.org