Aug. 18, 2011
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - The new face of the Huskies is going to be watching for a few weeks.
Chris Polk had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday morning, coach Steve Sarkisian announced after the evening practice. The 1,400-yard rusher from last year - one of only three Huskies to gain 1,000 yards in a season more than once - will miss "a couple" of weeks, Sarkisian said.
The junior plow horse "tweaked," to use the coach's word, his knee in practice Wednesday night. The coaches and UW medical staff decided to send him in for an arthroscopic look inside the knee right away. Doctors Thursday morning found that the meniscus, the rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions the knee, according to WebMD, needed repair.
"It's not serious, but I just didn't want it to linger," Sarkisian said. "I thought the doctors did it really well to say, `Let's just deal with it now so we're not worrying about it come October, November.'
"It potentially could be a couple of weeks, but I think he already feels good about it."
So, Bow Down to Washington's Doctors. They got the job done now so Polk will be available for most if not all of this season.
Asked if Polk is out of the opener against Eastern Washington, which was 16 days away Thursday, Sarkisian said, "I think it could be. It potentially could be. We don't know. It depends on his body and how it recovers.
"But I think for the long haul, with this thing, it was the right thing to do."
While the surgery was as minor as the apparent injury, this is still Chris Polk we're talking about.
He was second in the Pac-10 last season with 103.7 yards rushing per game, and his 284 yards in the Apple Cup was the second-best single-game rushing performance in Washington history. Polk is 1,545 yards away from Napoleon Kaufman's career rushing record at UW.
The redshirt junior wore sweatpants and his purple, No. 1 jersey while sitting on a tackling dummy watching the last part of practice from the sideline Thursday.
"I'm good," he said as he walked off the field with a smile.
Then he signed an autograph for a young fan and posed for a picture with him while throwing up "Dubs" with his hands.
Polk actually hates missing even a few plays of practice, even in August. Asked two days earlier about playing only a few minutes as starters rested for much of a full-go scrimmage, Polk said: "I don't like watching the offense play."
Especially when he was just settling into being the undeniable focal point of Washington's offense - and opposing defenses - this season, with Jake Locker now in the NFL.
"We're going to miss him. I mean, we're talking about a tremendous player," Sarkisian said.
The Huskies aren't sure if Polk injured the knee for the first time Wednesday, or whether it was damage accumulated over the 2,561 yards gained and 506 carries of his UW career so far.
"It could've been something that was there from before, and when he tweaked it that meniscus could have flared up on him," Sarkisian said. "We just went in, cleaned him up first thing this morning, and I think he'll be better in no time."
With Polk out, the Huskies will continue to use their power-running game with sophomore Jesse Callier. Callier gained 433 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season as a freshman - and as Polk's compliment, a speedy runner outside on plays such as fly sweeps.
He'll be running many more plays than that now.
Callier said hard workouts with strength coach Ivan Lewis added 10 pounds of power in the offseason and has him at 205 pounds.
Asked if he can now be an every-down back instead of an outside-sweep specialist, Callier said, "I feel like I can be both now ... I feel like Coach Ivan got me right. I was lifting hard every day, running hard and eating right."
Sarkisian said running between the tackles won't be foreign to Callier.
"That's what he did all through high school," Sarkisian said of Callier's career at Warren High in Downey, Calif., in which he ran for a whopping, state-best 3,010 yards and 43 touchdowns as a senior. "He's a pretty physical kid."
Fogerson had a hip injury that Sarkisian thought still slowed the senior from Seattle's O'Dea High School during spring practice. But the coach has been pleasantly surprised with how well Fogerson has been running this month, so he will get more carries in Polk's absence, too.
QUICK HITS: Starting CB Quinton Richardson moved around in his walking boot that is protecting his high left ankle sprain even better while watching Thursday's practice than he did while looking OK on it from the sidelines Wednesday night. The senior could also miss the opener. ... Juniors Anthony Gobern and Justin Glenn were on the first-team defense for the second consecutive practice, at CB and S, respectively. ... Sarkisian got back from Los Angeles and the funeral of his high-school coach and his mentor three plays into a 9-on-7 scrimmage, missing his goal by perhaps a minute. "I always thought of him as bigger than life," he said of Fred Petersen, who passed away last weekend. ... Friday's open practice gets underway at 7 p.m.