Chris Polk is being pulled in two different directions as his third season in the NFL sits just two weeks away. On the one hand, Polk wants to be healthy for the start of the regular season – a season in which, at least a month ago, the expectation was that he would be the Eagles' No. 3 running back. On the other hand, after missing about a month with a hamstring injury, Polk now needs to prove that he can be counted on when the season does begin.
"I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason," Polk said Saturday after returning to practice for the first time since suffering the injury. "You know, I can't control (injuries), so I'm very optimistic. It could be a blessing in disguise. Maybe (the injury) gave me time to work on my shoulder and gave me time to work on other areas, whether it's studying, getting stronger, faster, whatever. I'm definitely just taking positives out of everything. It just really slowed down and really put everything in perspective for me. Even though I'm not playing, I still watch every carry that every single running back we had (took during the preseason), and I try to envision myself what I would have done, so I wouldn't fall behind. I'm here now."
But after hearing head coach Chip Kelly say that the team is still trying to "find out who the third running back is going to be" following the Eagles' third preseason game, Polk knows he has to do something.
"I have to (Kelly) him because obviously I missed a lot so I have to put my best foot forward and show him, like, I'm here. I'm the real deal," said Polk.
What has made Polk's absence all the more frustrating is that, originally, he didn't believe the hamstring to pose much of a problem.
"I didn't even think I tore it," Polk said. "I just thought it was a light strain because I could still walk and it wasn't too swollen. Then I got the MRI and it said I had a grade-two tear. I was really surprised because I had never really hurt my hamstring before and it really didn't feel like a tear."
Polk said he can still feel the hamstring pulling a little bit when he cuts, but he's determined to get himself ready for the regular season. He's not sure, though, whether he'll be able to suit up for the preseason finale on Thursday night.
"I have to see how practice goes," Polk said. "I can't speak on anything, plus I wasn't even in full pads or cutting or anything. We'll just see how this week goes."
Boykin Held Out For Precaution**
In a bit of a surprise at the time, cornerback Brandon Boykin did not play against the Steelers because of a hamstring injury. After returning to practice on Saturday, Boykin insisted that he'll be ready for the regular season.
"I tweaked my hamstring in the week and I was feeling alright but I was kind of cautious going into the game, didn't want to hurt it even more and not be ready to play in this game or especially Jacksonvville," Boykin said. "I feel probably like 90 percent, but not where I want to be. I'm just going to take it slow and take it day-by-day."
Boykin was also asked how he hope to improve on a 2013 season in which he led the Eagles with six interceptions..
"Just being consistent. Just practicing at a high level," Boykin said. "People keep asking me, 'How are you going to top last season?' If I just continue to stay consistent, I think I'll have another great season. But the numbers things are things you can't control, so just do your job and hopefully they will come."
WR Smith Returns As Well
Wide receiver Brad Smith was back on the field Saturday after missing Thursday's preseason game with a groin injury.
"I'm getting better. I'm getting better each day. I didn't get to do much, but being able to shadow and kind of go through a little bit more mentally was good," Smith said.
Smith has made sure to keep up with the mental aspect of the game as he recovers from the injury.
"I take it a day at a time with the trainers and the strength staff just making sure my body's where it needs to be," Smith said. "We're moving ahead great. Mentally, I don't think I've missed a rep. I've been on overdrive trying to make sure that I'm studying more, mental reps, things like that."
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