Corey Clement's huge Super Bowl? 2017 Eagles in a nutshell

Corey Clement's huge Super Bowl? 2017 Eagles in a nutshell

MINNEAPOLIS — The day didn't start out so well for Corey Clement.

"When I woke up this morning I kind of felt sick," Clement said. "I was like, 'Damn, what am I walking into? What is this going to be like? I'm about to play in a Super Bowl.'"

No worries.

Clement caught four passes for 100 yards, including a 55-yard catch-and-run that's the longest offensive play in Eagles Super Bowl history, and a 22-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 10-point lead on the way to a 41-33 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium Minneapolis.

For this team? It makes perfect sense that a rookie running back who every team ignored seven times in the draft, who rarely caught the football in college or the first three months of this season, was the Eagles' leading receiver in one of the biggest games in franchise history.

Clement's 100 yards are third-most in Super Bowl history by a running back. He's the second Eagles running back with 100 yards in a playoff game. Keith Byars had 103 against the Bears in the Fog Bowl in 1988.

"This is awesome," said Clement, who grew up across the Delaware River from the Linc in Glassboro. "I was dreaming about this moment. I prayed so hard just to be a part of this moment with great guys that I knew wanted it so bad.

"We were counted out all season, but I knew the Philadelphia fan base really had our back and we just had to believe in ourselves."

Let's put Clement's 100 receiving yards in perspective.

He averaged 7.2 receiving yards per game at Wisconsin. He caught two passes as a junior. Even this year, he had just four receptions the first 11 games of the season.

But the Eagles eventually realized he was a pretty darn good receiver. They started throwing him the ball.

And here we are.

"Who ever thought he was going to be our third-down running back?" offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.

"Wisconsin doesn't exactly breed third-down running backs. They breed I-formation running backs. So for him to be our leading receiver in the Super Bowl … that's really just crazy."

The only running backs in Super Bowl history with more receiving yards are James White of the Patriots, who had 110 last year against the Falcons, and Roger Craig of the 49ers, who had 101 against the Bengals in 1988.

White, who had 66 yards of offense and a touchdown Sunday, is Clement's former Wisconsin teammate.

"He's always had a lot of great tips for me, even back in college," Clement said. "He's been a great mentor. I was happy for him last year, and I'm sure he's happy for me tonight.

"He's already won, what, two of these? Shoot, he has enough."

The Eagles' running backs piled up a staggering 255 yards of offense Sunday night, with LeGarrette Blount rushing for 90, Jay Ajayi rushing for 57 and Clement picking up 100 receiving yards in addition to one eight-yard carry.

His 55-yard catch broke the record for longest Super Bowl catch by a running back set by Marshall Faulk with a 52-yarder from Kurt Warner for the Rams against the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta.

Clement's 22-yarder is the third-longest TD by a running back in a Super Bowl, behind a 51-yarder from Steve Young to Ricky Watters for the 49ers against the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX after the 1994 season and a 33-yarder from Joe Montana to Carl Monroe for the 49ers against the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX after the 2004 season.

Simply put, one of the least accomplished collegiate receivers imaginable just had one of the greatest receiving Super Bowls ever by a running back.

Only this team.

"It's all a blessing," Clement said. "Going back to when the season started and now to this moment, it's awesome. It's my dream. Great teammates, coming from a New Jersey, a small school … I've achieved my dreams, man."

Clement was on the field for 24 plays Sunday night, one fewer than Ajayi and the same number as Blount.

That's how crucial this kid has become to the Eagles' passing game. And that's how brilliantly Doug Pederson used his running backs.

In the regular season, Clement had 10 catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

In the postseason, he had 10 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown.

His touchdown Sunday night was an absolute classic.

"It was something we practiced for the last two weeks, and I just believed in the play," Clement said. "It was kind of almost cut off, but I stuck with it. Nick Foles did a great job of keeping the play alive downfield. I gave him the hand, saying, 'I'm open.' Even if I had two guys on me, you still have to believe in yourself and know you can make a big impact for this offense."

He got a step on linebacker Marquis Flowers coming off the line of scrimmage and out-ran both Flowers and Pro Bowl defensive back Devin McCourty down the field. Foles put it where only Clement could catch it, and after a long review, the touchdown ruling was upheld.

"I really wasn't too nervous (they would reverse it)," he said. "But at the same time, when they slow everything down you kind of get the bubble guts and you're like, 'Damn, did I really catch it?' I knew I secured it, it was all about the feet. You have to make big plays when big plays are brought to you."

How the loss of Jordan Howard has damaged the Eagles

How the loss of Jordan Howard has damaged the Eagles

Jordan Howard still hasn’t been cleared for contact nearly five weeks after he hurt his shoulder, and at this point it certainly seems more likely than not that he will miss a fourth straight game when the Eagles face the Giants Monday night at the Linc.

A lot of factors have contributed to the Eagles’ three-game losing streak, but Howard’s absence is an under-rated huge one.

The Eagles were 5-4 and averaging 23 points per game with the fourth-year running back, and they’re 0-3 and averaging less than 17 points without him.

With Howard on the field, the Eagles were controlling the clock and keeping defenses off-balance. Doug Pederson spoke more than once about how an authoritative running attack had become the team’s identity.

That identity no longer exists.

Howard injured his shoulder in the win over the Bears on Nov. 3.

Pederson didn't mention Howard's injury after the game or the next day, and when the Eagles went into the bye there was no reason to believe it was serious.

Pederson first referred to Howard's injury as a “stinger,” or nerve damage in the shoulder area, on Nov. 15, nearly two weeks after Howard first got hurt.

Howard has practiced on a limited basis since the injury, but Pederson said Thursday he still hasn’t been cleared for contact and said there’s no change in his status.

Although rookie Miles Sanders has played very well, the Eagles miss Howard tremendously.

Through nine games, he was 14th in the NFL with 525 rushing yards and averaging 4.4 yards per carry.

Most importantly, he was moving the chains and getting in the end zone.

Going into Week 10, he had rushed for 28 first downs, 14th-most in the league (despite averaging just 13 carries per game), and he had six rushing TDs, 6th-most in the league.

In the three games Howard has missed, Sanders has averaged 4.6 yards per carry but has only 40 carries as Pederson has moved away from the running game.

The Eagles don’t have a rushing touchdown since Howard got hurt.

Interesting to note that in the nine games Howard played, the Eagles ranked 5th in the NFL in time of possession at 32:13 per game. Without Howard, they’re 13th at 30:44.

There are obviously other factors, but the Eagles’ offensive scoring is also down dramatically without Howard, from 23.3 to 16.7.

And most notably, instead of increasing Sanders’ workload with Sanders out, Pederson has simply decided not to run nearly as much.

In the nine games with Howard, the Eagles had the 6th-most rushing attempts in the NFL and a 55-45 pass-run ratio.

In the three games without Howard, the Eagles have the 3rd-FEWEST rushing attempts in the NFL and a 69-31 pass-run ratio.

The Eagles, who have lost running backs Corey Clement and Darren Sproles to season-ending injuries, signed Jay Ajayi a few weeks ago, but he’s only averaging 3.1 yards on eight carries so far.

When can we expect to see Howard?

It’s impossible to tell.

Pederson said Thursday he doesn’t expect this injury to be season-ending, but the season is over in 24 days, and Howard hasn’t played in 32 days.

Adding to the equation is the fact that Howard is scheduled to become a free agent after this season and the Eagles need to decide whether to offer him a long-term deal or not.

The season is slipping away, the Eagles haven’t won a game in over a month and one of the players they miss the most remains sidelined with an injury that won't go away.

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Eagles sign training camp standout receiver Marken Michel to practice squad

Eagles sign training camp standout receiver Marken Michel to practice squad

The Eagles on Thursday signed preseason and training camp standout Marken Michel to their practice squad.

Michel, 26, had an impressive summer in Philadelphia and was a strong contender to make the initial 53-man roster but was released at final cuts. The Eagles kept just five receivers out of training camp.

The Eagles reportedly had Michel in for a workout earlier this week.

During the preseason, Michel had four catches for 117 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown on a deep post against the Titans from Nate Sudfeld.

Michel is the older brother (by about a year and a half) of Patriots running back Sony Michel. While Sony has found a home in the NFL, Marken’s route has been more circuitous to this point.

Marken Michel went undrafted out of UMass in 2016. He spent one summer with the Vikings and then carved out a career in the Canadian Football League for two years. He was a teammate of Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton on the Calgary Stampeders when the Stampeders won the 2018 Grey Cup.

With this move to sign Michel (5-11, 190), the Eagles’ practice squad is now at capacity with 10 members and three of them are receivers. They have just four receivers on the 53-man roster.

The Eagles also have Robert Davis (6-3, 210) and Marcus Green (5-8, 191) on the practice squad.

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