It didn’t take Corey Clement very long on Thursday night to officially put his knee injury in the rearview.
In his first game action since he suffered that season-ender last December, Clement took a handoff — on the first play of Thursday’s 26-15 loss to the Ravens —from Cody Kessler. He barreled ahead for a gain of four yards before he was brought down by three Ravens tacklers.
Then he popped right back up.
“It’s a sense of relief,” Clement said. “All right, I’m back. Football. Let’s get to it. No more thinking out here. Just play the game like you know how to do. No more thinking about your knee or whatever the case may be.
“I threw it out the window. I’m good.”
It’s not that Clement, 24, was necessarily worried about how his right knee would hold up on Thursday night. Heck, he wasn’t even wearing a knee brace. But, as he explained, every player coming off a major injury has a little nervousness associated with getting hit for the first time. Once it happened, though, Clement was happy to put all this injury business behind him.
Clement’s stat line wasn’t eye-popping on Thursday; he had seven carries for 25 yards. But he looked healthy, he looked strong, he looked like the player who carved out a role for the Eagles in 2017 and could again in 2019.
As Doug Pederson explained, the Eagles had seen enough of Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders in the first two preseason games. Thursday was “Corey's time to play” because the coaching staff hadn’t seen enough of him yet. Clement’s recovery has meant a plan that eased him back into action. He finally got some first-team reps this week in preparation for Thursday’s game.
Clement knew Thursday was a chance to prove to his coaches that he’s healthy and ready to contribute.
“Yeah, for sure,” Clement said. “I’m sure they wanted to see it, which is why they put me out there. I wasn’t shying away from anything. If anything, you have to step up when the opportunity presents itself. I’m definitely blessed and fortunate to be able to play this game. You know, coming back from an injury that put me out so I’m happy to be out here and showing what I can still do.”
If the Eagles keep four running backs this season, it’ll likely be Howard, Sanders, Clement and Darren Sproles. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Clement’s job isn’t in danger.
Now, Clement is fighting for playing time and a role within the offense.
He took a big step toward that on Thursday night.
“It felt good,” he said. “Seeing what the guys have been going through. It’s good to be back in the mix, so I could feel like they’ve been feeling, so I don’t feel like I’m just here collecting dust.”
If there was any dust, it got knocked off of him early. And then he got back up.
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