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Brown, Polk provide Eagles strong backfield depth

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA - With the additions of rookies Bryce Brown and Chris Polk, the Eagles have their deepest running back corps in several years.

Brown, a seventh-round pick who only played nine college games, and Polk, an undrafted free agent, both made the Eagles' season-opening 53-man roster, joining All-Pro LeSean McCoy and backup Dion Lewis.

The Eagles usually only keep three running backs, but were so impressed with the skill sets of both Brown and Polk, that they decided to go with four.

While Lewis is a 5-foot-8, 195-pound jitterbug, Brown is 6-0, 225 and Polk is 5-11, 222.

Brown, who only played nine games in college for first, Tennessee, then Kansas State, gives the Eagles a rare blend of size and speed. He ran a 4.37 at his pre-draft workout and did an impressive job of getting to the outside in the preseason. He finished as the team's leading rusher in the preseason.

Polk isn't quite as fast as Brown. He's more of a between-the-tackles runner. But he also is a better blocker at this point in his career than Brown. Both of them can catch the ball out of the backfield.

"I really take pride in being able to do more than just run the ball," Brown said. "I think versatility is the key to my game. The more you can do, the more valuable you are to the organization."

Many think it will be only a matter of time this season before Brown jumps over Lewis and becomes the team's main backup to McCoy.

McCoy finished fourth in the league in rushing and fifth in yards from scrimmage last season. But the Eagles would like to lighten his load a bit this season.

His 894 snaps last year were the most by an NFL running back. His 321 touches were the fourth most in the league.

Lewis, who backed up McCoy last year, only got 24 touches, and half of those came in the Eagles' final game, which McCoy sat out with an ankle injury.

The Eagles are intrigued by Brown, but they would like him to improve his blitz pickup and pass-protection before they put him out there.

"It's tough because it's something I haven't done before," Brown said. "It's a learning process. The more you do it, the better you're going to get at it. I hear Dion and I hear McCoy talk about when they first came in and how difficult it was. It's just about me getting the reps and doing it over and over and over."
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