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Polk, Sankey Go Way Back As Teammates

Posted Nov 20, 2014

For one year, running back Chris Polk and Tennessee Titans running back Bishop Sankey shared a campus in the northwestern United States.

They attended the same football practices at the University of Washington, wore the same purple and black jerseys, and ran hard for Huskies' fans every Saturday.

That year, in 2011, Polk ran for 1,488 yards and 12 touchdowns, finishing 16th in the country in rushing. It was a huge season for Polk on an otherwise average team that finished 7-5 before falling, 67-56, to Robert Griffin III and Baylor University in the Alamo Bowl. Sankey, a freshman at the time, ran just 28 times for 187 yards.

Then, in the spring of 2012, Polk left for the NFL. After going undrafted, largely because of an injured shoulder, Polk signed with the Eagles, with whom he has been ever since.

Polk's departure opened the door for Sankey to take over the starting role for Washington. The Spokane, Wa., native pounced on the opportunity over the next two seasons. During his junior year, his final season as a Husky, Sankey ran for 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns, setting a school record for the most yards in a single season and most rushing touchdowns in a career with 37. The second record took just three seasons, and so Sankey decided he'd done enough. It was time for the next level.

Last May, Sankey was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans, who quickly installed him as their starting running back, and through 11 weeks the rookie has piled up nearly 400 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Three years after spending an entire season with Sankey, Polk said he remembers a thing or two about his former teammate, both as a football player and as a person.

"First off, he's a real down-to-earth, humble guy," Polk said.

As players, Polk said the two are fairly similar. They’re both 5-10, though Polk is 15 pounds heavier. Polk, though, admitted one area where Sankey has the edge.

"He's faster than I am," Polk admitted with a smile, "but when it comes down to it we're similar. We're aggressive, not too much dancing. Based off our coaching, we've just got to get upfield and just get violent.

"So in a sense we kind of have the same style, just a little different - he's just a little faster. He's got more of that burst."

Sankey ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at his NFL Scouting Combine, compared to the 4.57 Polk ran at his combine, which makes Polk's case for him - the two are similarly built, and similarly take opposing defensive lines on full steam ahead. Sankey just tends to bring a little more pop in the open field, while Polk brings a little extra weight to his smash mouth-style of rushing.

This weekend, Polk will be looking to set an example for his former mentee; the Titans possess a good well-rounded defense, but their efforts against the run have been less-than-stellar, and if Polk sees action throughout the afternoon, he could make the Titans' defense pay.

Polk said he watched part of this past week's Monday Night Football game between the Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he noticed one big thing from the Tennessee defense: the physicality of the unit.

"They really get after it, and they're really physical," Polk explained, "So it's definitely going to be a physical game."

And physical play is right up Polk's alley.

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