The Philadelphia Eagles spent only a seventh-round draft pick at the position, yet they have two very talented backs vying to be their No. 3 running back. Former top recruit in the country Bryce Brown and the highly decorated but undrafted Chris Polk began what should be one of the better rookie position battles of the summer this weekend at the Eagles' rookie minicamp.
Philadelphia Inquirer beat writers Jonathan Tamari and Jeff McLane gave Brown the quickness points on the scorecard, even though he's the bigger back:
agreed. RT @Jeff_McLane: One observation off rookie camp RB Bryce Brown (who has good size at 220) is quicker than the undrafted Chris Polk— Jonathan Tamari (@JonathanTamari) May 12, 2012
McLane later pointed out that Polk has much more experience and ability as a blocker, which will often keep rookie backs off of the field—or the team.
Polk said his offense at Washington was "pro-style" with a lot of pass-protection responsibilities for the running backs. He added that the wording in the Eagles offense was really the only difference from his college offense with respect to pass protection, but that formations, check-downs and "getting the raw concepts" were the hardest things for him at the minicamp.
CSNPhilly.com columnist Reuben Frank noticed that head coach Andy Reid took Brown aside for one-on-one coaching during Sunday's practice, which he thought was a sign that the Eagles "really want Brown to succeed. Frank was impressed with Brown's athleticism, calling him 'fast and fluid with good explosion'."
Bob Grotz from the Journal Register said early impressions of Polk were "positive." He pointed out that Polk isn't a power back, but he's also a fluid athlete with great hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
Expect good reports about both backs to continue to roll in throughout training camp and the preseason. The Eagles will have a hard time trying to slip one through to the practice squad, so they could carry four backs.
If they do attempt to stash Brown or Polk, look for the loser of this competition to find a home somewhere else in the NFL very quickly.