Chris Polk couldn't sleep Thursday night. The undrafted rookie knew what was to come on Friday - the agonizing wait of roster cutdown day. All night, Polk tossed and turned, continually checking his phone, even though the ringer was set on "loud." It was much of the same once the sun came up, until about 2 PM, seven hours before the 9 PM deadline, when Polk's nightmare came true - he got a call from an unknown number with a 215 area code. It was coming from the NovaCare Complex.
"I waited until the last ring to actually answer it," Polk said Monday. "I answered it and (it was special teams quality control coach Duce Staley). He was like, 'Hey Chris, what's up.' I was like, 'Hey Coach, what's going on? Why do you sound like that, man? You're about to cut me?' Then he said, 'No man, I just called to say good job and congratulations.'"
For Polk, it was a gut-wrenching way to receive the news that he'd made the 53-man roster.
"That was definitely one of the worst phone calls I ever got," Polk said.
In all, 24 Eagles were released between Friday and Saturday. But for a fortunate few, Polk included, life on the bubble paid off.
Offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds is a cut-day veteran by now. Each of the last three years, Reynolds received the bad news that he would not be on the active roster, though he remained a member of the organization as a practice squad player each time. This year, with his practice squad eligibility exhausted, it was active roster or bust for the interior offensive lineman. And this time, after proving himself in offensive line coach Howard Mudd's system and showcasing his positional versatility throughout the preseason, Reynolds received no phone call at all.
"As soon as that 9 o' clock deadline hit - you know there's always a chance that something could happen. But that night, it was an exciting moment to be able to know that you finally made it and to enjoy it with your family," said Reynolds, who has one daughter with his wife Suzanne. "It's awesome. It's been a lot of hard work. I'm glad that it's finally paid off. I'm just looking to get better and continue to progress."
There was constant communication with the team on Friday for one Eagle, defensive end Darryl Tapp, who reportedly restructured his contract in order to remain with the team. The veteran, who had a standout preseason and is finally healthy after being bothered by a pectoral injury in 2011, said the decision to stay in Philadelphia was an easy one.
"I'm happy to be an Eagle," Tapp said. "However it had to happen, that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be here and I'm happy to be here.
"It's exciting, man. There are so many things that can be done in this defense. You have that great rotation on that defensive line, so I expect big things. It's very good to come out of Training Camp healthy."
Perhaps the biggest surprise about the team's final roster construction is that Polk is one of four running backs on the team. Under Andy Reid, the Eagles generally have kept three running backs. But talent wins out, and LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Polk all proved worthy of a roster spot in the eyes of Reid and general manager Howie Roseman.
"I wasn't surprised," said McCoy. "Guys like that that work hard, that want to make a name for themselves in this league, that are willing to do whatever it takes to make the team. I wasn't surprised those guys made the team. I figured we'd keep them all. We have so much depth. We're young."
Now, with the stress of cut day behind them, the Eagles turn their attention to the regular season ahead. The real work is just getting started.
"I was proud of myself," said Polk. "But this is like the draft, this is not the end, it's just the beginning."
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