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Originally published April 26, 2011 at 8:58 PM | Page modified April 26, 2011 at 11:08 PM

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Chris Polk feels faster, ready for another strong season

This has been a different kind of spring practice for Washington running back Chris Polk. For one thing, he's actually practicing.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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This has been a different kind of spring practice for Washington running back Chris Polk. For one thing, he's actually practicing.

Polk sat out the last two springs after having had shoulder surgery, making this the first time he has participated since 2008. It might also be the last, as the general expectation is that Polk — a fourth-year junior — is likely to declare for the NFL after the 2011 season.

He was eligible to leave after 2010 and thought briefly about it before deciding not to, saying, "I hadn't reached the goals I wanted to reach."

He said he'll watch this week's NFL draft out of the same curiosity he always has, but not with an eye on his own future — or where he might have gone had he declared after rushing for 1,415 yards last year, second-most in UW history.

"That will come later," said Polk, who some speculated could have been among the top running backs taken had he come out. "I'm in college now and just enjoying my time and trying to get better."

Specifically, Polk is working on his role in the passing game — blocking, as well as route-running — to become a better all-around player.

"I've just got to do the little things right and just be physical," he said. "In pass protection, act like I've got the ball and just be physical and go right there and put my face on whoever is trying to blitz the quarterback."

He also said he has dropped a little weight, checking in now at 220 compared to the 227 he said he weighed at the end of last season. Polk said he thinks he's still as strong, but "I feel faster. I'm more elusive, I've got more cuts."

After Saturday's scrimmage, UW middle linebacker Cort Dennison, who had to try to tackle Polk a few times, agreed.

"I think his lower-body strength has definitely improved this offseason," Dennison said. "He was already hard enough to bring down in the fall last year. I think with more lower-body strength he's just going to be a nightmare for defenses."

And likely that much more of a weapon for the Huskies, who may turn to him even more than last season as they break in a new quarterback — either Keith Price or Nick Montana — to replace Jake Locker.

"I wouldn't mind it," Polk said. "But if we do that, I feel like they will just stack the box ... they really got to respect the pass, so I told both Nick and Keith, 'You've got to help me help you. The better you do in the passing game it's going to open up the run,' and vice versa. We're going to have to re-establish that 1-2 punch like me and Jake had last year."

Sarkisian calls Carroll

for advice on QB decision

It wasn't the first time, nor will it be the last, that UW coach Steve Sarkisian dials up his former boss, Pete Carroll — now head coach of the Seahawks — for a little advice.

But when he called Carroll on Monday to chat about how best to handle naming a starting quarterback, news got out and was reported on ESPN.com. That led to speculation that Sarkisian had made a decision and was ready to name a starter.

Sarkisian, though, said after Tuesday's practice that isn't the case, that the battle is still status quo. Price, a sophomore, has appeared to observers to have an edge on Montana, a redshirt freshman.

"(It) was how I want to do it more so than I know," Sarkisian said. "I knew how I wanted to express it and I wanted to see how it sounds like to him when that time comes. I have great respect for Pete — obviously he is a tremendous mentor to me — and that's not the first time I've called him, believe me, on issues. He offered some good advice on how to handle it."

NOTES

• Left tackle Senio Kelemete, who has been sidelined much of spring with a plantar fascia injury, was in full pads and took part in some drills. "He looked pretty good today," Sarkisian said. "I was pleasantly surprised. We thought this would be about the timeline to get him back going."

• UW's annual spring game is Saturday at 11 a.m. at Husky Stadium, and Sarkisian said the plan is to play a game. "We'll have a few guys that will have to swing back and forth," he said. "But I want to give our fans an opportunity to watch a football game and I just feel like if you go out and scrimmage it's hard to follow what's happening and you only get an ooh or an aah when there is a pass play or something, so we are going to try to play a game and give it our best shot. But I think it will turn out well."

• Mercer Island High School quarterback Jeff Lindquist, who has said he has narrowed his choices to UW and Stanford and may make a decision as soon as May 1, attended Washington's practice Tuesday.

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