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Originally published Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 8:40 PM

UW star running back Chris Polk has knee surgery

Chris Polk, whose 1,415 yards last season were the second-most in school history, had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday and could miss the Huskies' opener.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Steve Sarkisian has said throughout training camp that he thinks the depth on this team is greater than in either of his first two years as football coach of the Washington Huskies.

That theory will get one of its biggest tests yet for a few weeks as Sarkisian announced after Thursday's practice that junior running back Chris Polk — whose 1,415 yards last season were the second-most in school history — had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday morning to repair a meniscus injury.

While any knee injury to a running back inevitably inspires worry, Sarkisian said that it is "not serious" and that he thinks Polk "will be back in no time."

Still, he also said there's a chance Polk could miss the opener against Eastern Washington on Sept. 3.

"Potentially," he said. "We don't know. It depends on his body and how he recovers. But I think for the long haul it was the right thing to do."

Sarkisian said Polk injured the knee at some point during a practice at Husky Stadium Wednesday night.

"I don't know if it kind of lingered on him and it was one cut or not, but he knew near the end of practice that this just doesn't feel right, something isn't feeling right," he said. "When we got done we said, 'Let's go in and take a look at this thing' and (surgery) was the right thing to do. ... It's not serious but I just didn't want it to linger and I thought the doctors handled it really well, and let's just do it now so we are not dealing with this thing come October, November. It potentially could be a couple of weeks but I think he already feels good about it."

Sophomore Jesse Callier took the snaps at tailback with the No. 1 offense in Thursday's practice. Senior Johri Fogerson and true freshman Bishop Sankey are next in line.

"Oh sure, we are going to miss him," Sarkisian said of Polk, who some have tabbed as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate. "We're talking about a tremendous player — and his impact on practice, too. He's a tremendous practice player. But this is a great opportunity for Jesse and Johri and Bishop and those guys to get a few more carries so that we can gather more information on them."

Callier, a 5-10, 205-pounder from Downey, Calif., rushed for 433 yards on 77 attempts last season, averaging 5.6 per carry, with a best of 107 yards on 10 carries against UCLA.

"I've just got to step up my game, be a leader out there," Callier said.

Callier said he weighs about 10 pounds more this fall than he did a year ago, when he said he thought he tailed off a bit at the end of the season.

"I maybe got too comfortable," he said. "I maybe thought I knew too much of the game. But I'm pretty sure there was a lot to know. There is still stuff I'm learning that I didn't know. So I just probably got too comfortable."

Sarkisian said he has every confidence the tailbacks available can fill in until Polk returns.

"They have done nothing to tell me I shouldn't feel comfortable with them," Sarkisian said.

The spot was already lacking some depth. Deontae Cooper, expected to return from an ACL surgery that cost him all of last season, reinjured the knee in the offseason and is again out for this year. UW brought in freshman tailback Kyle Lewis, also of Downey, over the summer but he has yet to practice while awaiting approval from the NCAA.

Sarkisian, however, said a bright spot of fall camp has been the play of Fogerson, a senior from O'Dea who missed all but one game last year with a hip injury.

Fogerson is now healthy and Sarkisian said: "I think he has brought a real serious attitude to this training camp."

Sankey is a true freshman from Gonzaga Prep in Spokane who has impressed early with his speed. The depth issues would seem to increase the odds he will play this season and not redshirt.

It's the second injury to a significant player UW has suffered this week. Starting cornerback Quinton Richardson incurred a high ankle sprain on Saturday. But Sarkisian said he may also be back within a few weeks and isn't concerned Richardson will be out long-term.

Notes

• Backup linebacker Jordan Wallace is also out with a knee injury, though Sarkisian said it is not known exactly what is wrong and it's unclear when he will return.

• UW will practice Friday night at 7 p.m. and hold a scrimmage at the stadium Saturday at 3:15 p.m.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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