Corey Clement continues to stand out in crowded Eagles backfield

Corey Clement continues to stand out in crowded Eagles backfield

Lincoln Financial Field is a familiar place to Corey Clement.

As a kid, the Glassboro, New Jersey, native would make the 21-mile trip up Route 55 and across the Walt Whitman Bridge on Sundays to watch the Eagles play every once in a while. But it wasn't until becoming an Eagle himself that Clement stepped foot on the Linc's cushy turf.

Thursday night, he got to do more than just run around on the field that he used to dream of getting the chance to play on. He found paydirt.

"A dream came true getting a chance to score on Lincoln Financial Field," Clement said. "I had to work for it. It wasn't given so I'm just looking for the next one.

"There was a lot going through my head, especially as I was breaking through the line of scrimmage. I saw [Nelson] Agholor and he was blocking his behind off, so I just charged up right behind. I said, 'Either way I'm falling into this end zone.' I think I had a big smile in my head saying, 'It's right here and if I don't get it, I'll be very upset with myself.'"

For the second straight game, Clement led the team on the ground in both carries and yards, gaining 34 yards on eight touches — including a 24-yard burst that set up one of two Caleb Sturgis field goals. And once again, Clement was a major beneficiary of absences by Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood, neither of whom saw action against the Bills.

Still, Clement's spot on this team is very much up in the air.

LeGarrette Blount got all of the first-team reps Thursday night and it's well known what Darren Sproles is capable of, even at age 34. Donnel Pumphrey, a fourth-round pick this year, isn't going anywhere anytime soon, either. In all likelihood, it's going to be a fight to the finish between Clement and Smallwood.

And with the opportunity to make an NFL team as an undrafted rookie right out in front of him, Clement is seizing the moment.

"I don't worry about the roster spot. I just come out here and be the best that I can," Clement said. "I'm making it harder for those guys to push me off the team. At the same time, I worry about myself and myself only. If I can be the best version of myself on that day, it's all up to [the other running backs.]

"It's kind of like a checklist. Did I own the day? And my motto is one day at a time. I come back, lay down and know I gave it my all. Once that next morning comes, I don't worry about the last day. I start over — today was day one again, so tomorrow will be day one again."

Not only did Clement find success as a rusher but he also showed that his game is continuing to develop at the pro level. He caught a pair of passes for six yards — nothing drastic but it's a facet of his game that never had the chance to show during his college days at Wisconsin. He also looked a willing pass blocker in the backfield, another area that's been a part of taking the next step.

All told, it's clear that both running backs coach Duce Staley and head coach Doug Pederson are taking notice of the local kid.

“Corey's been doing a really good job for us,” Pederson said. “He's a tough kid, as you can see, he's a tough runner, hard runner, smart kid. He's done everything we've asked him to do.

“He's put himself in a good position. He's competing with the other running backs there at his position, and just excited for him to score tonight.”

More than just the coaches, Blount, the Eagles' elder statesman in the backfield, also sees major potential in Clement — whether he ultimately finds a way onto this team's 53-man roster or not.

"You can't say enough," Blount said. "He's got great vision, he catches the ball well, he protects the ball well. He's going to be a really good running back in this league. I can't speak on the future and how things are going to go, but he's one of the future running backs in this league that's causing problems."

Over the course of the Eagles' final two preseason contests, Clement will have just as many, if not more, chances to show that he deserves a place on this team. When he steps back out onto the same field next Thursday and then MetLife Stadium in two weeks, however, don't expect the 22-year-old to look like he's feeling the pressure of looming cuts.

He's just out there having fun.

"The most pressure I feel is during practice," Clement said. "When I come out here during the game, I can be at ease because I know I put in the work during practice. As far as coming out for the game, it's about having fun playing with your friends.

"At the same time, football is full of ups and downs. It's all about how you bounce back."

Nnamdi Asomugha ... the movie star?

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Nnamdi Asomugha ... the movie star?

Eagles fans certainly know that Nnamdi Asomugha knows how to be a part of drama. So given his experience with the Birds' 2011 "Dream Team," it's only fitting that the former cornerback is still starring in dramas.

Only now, he's doing so on the big screen.

In a lengthy feature published by Bleacher Report Tuesday afternoon, the former Eagle talked in depth about his transition from being an NFL player to a big-time actor, and Asomugha specifically hit on some of the problems from his time in Philadelphia. After the 2011 NFL lockout, the Eagles signed him to a $60 million contract that never panned out, with the team sputtering to an 8-8 season and eventually cutting him just at the beginning of the Chip Kelly era in 2013.

“It wasn’t like I could spend much time talking about defenses and schemes,” Asomugha told Bleacher Report's Joon Lee of the free-agent frenzy following the lockout. “It was ‘pick the team, the head coach and make a decision.’ And that’s what we did.”

Asomugha, who married Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated actress Kerry Washington in 2013, made his acting debut on an episode of Friday Night Lights back in 2009 and will star in the upcoming film, Crown Heights. The full-length feature won the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Flim Festival and will be released August 25.

But the piece also spends a significant chunk of time on Asomugha's fateful two seasons in the City of Brotherly Love. Apparently, he was good friends with Jason Babin and according to Lee, the former Pro Bowl corner would rather not talk about his years with the Eagles (yet, still does at length...).

Here are some quick hits from Asomugha in the story:

 On why the "Dream Team" never panned out:

“We all just came in trying to learn and trying to pick it up as quickly as possible. It was never a feeling of ‘I’ve been here before. We’ve done this before. I can come in with the same confidence that I had before.’”

On the controversial report that he was eating lunch outside the NovaCare Complex in his car:

“It was interesting that that came out because guys would go home, guys would eat in their car. It’s not an abnormal thing on any team. We’d eat in the training room. We’d eat in the locker room. We’d eat in all sorts of places.”

On leading a quiet life:

“I’m really bad at self-promotion. I know that about myself. People told me all of the time, ‘You could be such a big star if you just talked about yourself more,’ but I’m not good at that. It’s always been about team.”

If you want to read the full story, click here. If you want to instead reminisce and cry about the "Dream Team" that never was, watch this mini-doc from the Eagles' 2011 season:

Phillies-Padres 5 things: Mark Leiter Jr. back on the bump as a starter

Phillies-Padres 5 things: Mark Leiter Jr. back on the bump as a starter

Phillies (43-73) at Padres (52-66)
10:10 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on and the NBC Sports App

The Phillies dropped their series opener Monday night in San Diego despite a decent outing from Jerad Eickhoff.

Fortunately, there were positive signs from their offense, and tonight they'll be putting one of their better arms of late on the hill.

1. Homerin' Hoskins
What was best? The silent treatment after Rhys Hoskins' first major-league blast, the fact that he added a second homer later on or his family's celebration of the two shots?

The answer is all three. After starting his career with the Phils 0 for 12, Hoskins notched his first hit Sunday and sent two baseballs into the stands Monday night — the first at 402 feet and the second at 400 — becoming the first Phillie to hit two homers in a game this quickly since Don Money in 1969. It was only a matter of time until the 24-year-old slugged a home run, especially given that he was leading the International League with 29 before his promotion last week.

So what does Hoskins have planned for his encore performance? The Phillies hope Hoskins provide consistent offense like Nick Williams has delivered since he arrived from Lehigh Valley. 

Hoskins was slashing .284/.385/.581 at Triple A, and if he can come somewhat close to those numbers with the big club, the Phils could see their offense begin to take another step forward.

Tonight Hoskins will face Padres righty Dinelson Lamet, who has been particularly good against right-handed batters. Right-handed hitters are hitting just .147 against Lamet, who is allowing a .276 average from lefties.

2. Leit it up
The last couple of appearances couldn't have gone much better for Mark Leiter Jr. Over the span of two lengthy relief appearances in the last 10 days, Leiter has tossed 9 1/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on six hits with a whopping 16 strikeouts.

This all comes after a rough month-and-a-half for the 26-year-old. Following his first major-league win at Arizona on June 23, when he went six shutout innings, Leiter watched his ERA balloon from 3.60 to 4.86 in just four outings with the Phillies and has been up and down between Philly and Lehigh Valley.

If Leiter can now carry his consistency over from the bullpen, there's a legit chance that he could stick in the rotation for the remainder of the season. Certainly, Eickhoff and Aaron Nola aren't going anywhere, but it's not clear when Vince Velazquez will be back on the hill, and neither Nick Pivetta or Zach Elfin has been very good.

Leiter won't blow you away with speed, but his deception and control have been incredibly good as of late, and none of these Padres have ever faced him before, meaning he'll likely have the upper hand early on Tuesday night. The son of an 11-year MLB pitcher now has his chance to show that he deserves to stick around for a while.

3. Top of the shop
Of the Phils' 11 hits Monday night, seven came from the first four guys in the Phillies' order. Hoskins, Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera each had a pair plus one from Cesar Hernandez. Add in Williams (who hit sixth), and that's not a bad group to move forward with.

The question now becomes whether the Phillies can find some top-to-bottom offense. They still rank second-to-last in the majors in runs scored (the only team behind them is San Diego) and they are third-to-last in homers (San Francisco, the team they'll play next, is last).

It's not necessarily a matter of whether the Phils are actually winning games right now, but you're talking about guys (including Maikel Franco and Aaron Altherr) that are all 27 years old or younger and under team control for at least another season.

While the pitching remains a major uncertainty, the Phils need to hope that this group of guys, or at least a few of them, can become their offensive core. 

4. So much for a relief
Let's just be blunt about it: Ricardo Pinto was downright bad Monday night. He needed 45 pitches to get through two innings, surrendered five runs on just four hits, gave up two walks and a solo homer to Cory Spangenberg.

On the bright side, the rest of the Phils' bullpen will be available tonight. Still, no one among that group has a sub-3.00 ERA and is there anyone that you actually trust?

It's hard to imagine Leiter going too deep into tonight's contest, meaning that someone is going to have to finish the game off and potentially hold a lead. It may not be a problem now, but you can only hope that some guys emerge going forward.

5. This and that
• Hoskins isn't the only Phillie to hit a pair of home runs in the game which he hit his first homer. Scott Rolen did it back on Aug. 21, 1996 — but that was also his 21st major-league game.

• Leiter's best outings this year all have come against the NL West, oddly enough. His first win came at Arizona, his nine-strikeout performance was in Colorado and he's shut out both San Francisco and the Dodgers in relief appearances.