When he cuts, Chris Polk can still feel the hamstring he tore early in Eagles training camp, but Polk knows he is out of time. His spot as the main backup to running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles is in jeopardy, with only a week remaining before the team cuts down to the regular-season limit of 53 players.
The Eagles took the first step in that direction earlier Saturday, when they released 14 of the 15 players they need to shed by Tuesday to get to 75.
"We'll definitely see how practice goes tomorrow; today was a light day," Polk said, when asked if he thinks he'll be able to play in the preseason finale against the Jets on Thursday. 'It felt good to go out there and move around. It's been (nearly) a month, so it definitely felt good."
Asked if he is encouraged by his progress, Polk didn't exactly say "yes."
"The thing that drives me, I missed too much. I gotta catch up, I'm real behind right now, especially I gotta get in shape, get some real reps, get tackled, get hit a few times. I look forward to that," he said.
How's his conditioning?
"I'm not out of shape, but I'm not in football shape; to get in football shape, you have to play football. There's nothing you can do outside the field that's going to get you prepared for that," Polk said.
Polk said he didn't know how serious the injury was when it happened.
"I didn't even think I tore it; I thought it was just like a light strain, because I could still walk, and it wasn't too swollen. Then I got the MRI, it said I had a Grade 2 tear. I was really surprised, because I never hurt my hamstring before, and it really didn't feel like a tear."
Polk said the injury is lateral, across his hamstring, so "I feel it definitely when I try to cut, put my weight on one leg and try to burst."
Meanwhile, kicker Cody Parkey practiced with his new teammates two days after playing in a game with them, which is not how it usually works.
Parkey, brought in to compete with Alex Henery, was told he was being cut by the Indianapolis Colts Tuesday night. Wednesday, before the move was official, the Colts ended up trading him to the Eagles for running back David Fluellen, who had been told the same thing by the Birds.
Parkey said he'd planned to drive home to Florida from Indianapolis, by way of his alma mater, Auburn. He was in Georgia when he got the phone call about the trade. Parkey then set a course for the Atlanta airport.
"It's been definitely a pretty good story," said Parkey, an undrafted rookie who was on the Eagles' radar before the draft; he said special teams coordinator Dave Fipp came to Auburn to work him out. Parkey said the Eagles were not among the several teams he and his agent talked to right after the draft. He signed with the Colts because Adam Vinatieri is 41 and his agent thought there might be an opportunity there. Turned out there wasn't.
"The guy there is pretty good ... 19-year veteran," Parkey noted.
Parkey kicked off twice and made an extra point for the Eagles against the Steelers Thursday. He also witnessed Alex Henery missing a 31-yard field goal, the event that could have been the final gasp of Henery's Eagles career.
Parkey said for a kicker, moving to a new team isn't all that complicated -- you need timing with the holder and the snapper, but there are no plays to learn.
"They just said, 'compete,' " Parkey said, when asked what the Eagles had told him..
Parkey led the NCAA in touchbacks last season.
"I take it real seriously, just as much as I do field goals," he said.
This is the last week of practice for offensive tackle Lane Johnson, whose four-game suspension for using a banned substance means he has to leave NovaCare for a month, starting a week from Monday, Johnson said Saturday.
"Staying in football shape is going to be toughest," said Johnson, who did extra running work after practice with LeSean McCoy. "It's going to be tough getting back in the first couple weeks (after the suspension), trying to get ahold of things."
Johnson can't come around the facility or talk to coaches. He can talk to teammates; the tentative plan is for him to got to Todd Herremans' house on Mondays to review the previous week's action.
Johnson said he plans to work out at a South Jersey facility recommended by Herremans.
Running back Kenjon Barner, acquired from the Panthers Tuesday, confirmed what Josh Huff said earlier -- former Oregon Ducks don't necessarily have an easy transition to Chip Kelly's Eagles offense, which is not the offense he ran at Oregon.
"Everybody, including my guys in Carolina, they're like, 'you're going to something you know.' I'm like, 'yeah, you're right.' And then I get here, and it's like Spanish," Barner said. "The terminology's different, the plays are different. It's like my freshman year in college, coming in, not having a clue what was going on, have to dig into that playbook and learn."
Mark Sanchez said he would have liked to have played this week against the Jets, for whom he started 68 games, including playoffs, but he respects Chip Kelly's decision to sit both Nick Foles and Sanchez.
Actually, this is a good thing for Sanchez, who is definitely the No. 2 and not the No. 3. Kelly doesn't need to see any more from the QB who went 25 for 31 in three preseason games (80.6 percent), with two touchdowns and an interception. His passer rating was 112.5.
It's a more interesting situation for Matt Barkley. Kelly made a point of announcing Barkley will start and get a lot of work against the Jets. Is this just because Barkley will be buried deep once the season starts, get him some game reps while you can, or would the Eagles like another team to offer them something for Barkley, leaving them with G.J. Kinne as the No. 3?