With injuries, is Corey Clement really Eagles’ return man?

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With injuries, is Corey Clement really Eagles’ return man?

As the Eagles got out to practice on Thursday, there were just two players on the active roster who didn’t practice: Darren Sproles (hamstring) and Shelton Gibson (knee).

After being limited in practice on Thursday, neither participated at all on Thursday, which means the Eagles might go into Sunday’s game in Tampa without their top kick returner and their top punt returner. 

Next up is … 

*looks at the unofficial depth chart*

Corey Clement

The Eagles’ second-year running back is listed as the team’s backup at both positions even though he’s never really done it consistently in the NFL or in college. 

“I try to get my fit in everything I possibly can,” Clement said. “Not saying, I’m a selfish person, but I can contribute in many ways rather than just running back. I’m going to try to work my best with Coach (Dave) Fipp, seeing where I can get in on special teams to fill that void and make sure things don’t go on a downslope when Sproles is out.”

During his time in the NFL, Clement has been the Eagles’ up back on kick returns, but has just two returns for 49 yards. He has gotten plenty of reps at both spots in practice. 

It’s not even like Clement was a returner in college. In four years at Wisconsin, Clement had just one kick return and two punt returns. 

But if you’ll remember, Clement wasn’t much of a pass catcher in college either. After catching just 29 passes in his college career, Clement came to the NFL and had 100 receiving yards in the Super Bowl. So tell him he can’t do something. 

“I’m always open to new plays, new positions, just gives me a different feel,” Clement said. “It almost gives me a different perspective on football. If I get put in a position, it’s like a challenge for me. How can I approach each snap and this opportunity? Last year people said I can’t catch, oh well. Now, I got another opportunity to show what else I can do, in special teams.”

Now, just because Clement is listed on the unofficial depth chart as the backup at both spots, it doesn’t mean he’ll actually play both on Sunday if Sproles and Gibson are out. After all, the unofficial depth chart is … unofficial.

So if it’s not Clement, who will return? 

Well, the next best guess at kick returner is Wendell Smallwood. The third-year running back doesn’t have a huge role on offense and has kick return experience. He’s returned 13 in his career for an average of 27.1 yards per return and even brought one back to the house in 2016. 

At punt returner, the best guess is probably journeyman receiver DeAndre Carter. While this is Carter’s first season on a 53-man roster, he did return punts this summer. Aside from Clement, he’s the only player still on the roster who returned punts in the preseason. He had three returns (average of 12.7 yards per return) and two fair catches. The problem there is that he played 54 offensive snaps in Week 1. 

Aside from those three — Clement, Smallwood and Carter — it’s hard to imagine anyone else returning on Sunday. Rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox is the only defensive player who would make sense, but the Eagles didn’t rep him there this summer. And he got the bulk of his returns as a freshman in college. 

Jay Ajayi and Mike Wallace each have just one career kick return. Nelson Agholor would probably be a really good kick returner, but he’s just too valuable to the offense. And while Kamar Aiken will probably have a role on special teams, he’s not a returner. 

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Erase Jay Gruden's name from your Eagles coaching wish list

Erase Jay Gruden's name from your Eagles coaching wish list

Another of the most qualified remaining candidates for the Eagles’ offensive coordinator vacancy is off the board.

Jay Gruden, recently fired after six mediocre years as the Redskins’ head coach, is close to joining the Jaguars to fill their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Assuming the deal is completed, Gruden will become the Jaguars’ third offensive coordinator in three years. He replaces former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, fired last week after just one year in Jacksonville. DeFilippo replaced Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired and spent this past year in the same position with the Packers. DeFilippo was recently hired by Matt Nagy as QBs coach of the Bears.

Ten teams were in the market for an offensive coordinator when the regular season ended.

Of those 10, the Eagles are one of only two still hanging a "Help Wanted" sign on their front door. 

The other is the Vikings, whose offensive coordinator this past year, Kevin Stefanski, was named last week as head coach of the Browns.

Gruden, whose older brother John was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator under Ray Rhodes from 1995 through 1997 and is now head coach of the Raiders, spent 2011 through 2013 as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator before replacing Mike Shanahan as head coach of the Redskins in 2014.

His teams went 38-57 in six years and reached the playoffs only once, losing a wild-card game to the Packers in 2015.

In Jacksonville, Gruden will presumably be working with 2017 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who was the Jaguars’ opening-day quarterback this past year but was hurt much of the season and then benched later in the year for rookie Gardner Minshew.

It’s not known whether the Eagles had any formal interest in Gruden, but he was certainly one of the most intriguing remaining candidates for the opening.

The Eagles fired Mike Groh 12 days ago after two years as offensive coordinator one day after head coach Doug Pederson said both would remain on his staff.

Among the candidates the Eagles have been linked with who are now expected to remain in their current position are Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka, Ravens QBs coach James Urban (who spent three years as Bengals WRs coach under Jay Gruden) and USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.

Other qualified candidates who are off the board include Chan Gailey, hired as Dolphins offensive coordinator; LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who was hired by the Panthers; Joe Moorhead, who was hired Tuesday as Oregon’s offensive coordinator; and former Eagles offensive coordinator and recently fired Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who was hired as OC of the Broncos.

Earlier Tuesday, we outlined some of the top remaining candidates, including current Eagles position coaches Duce Staley and Press Taylor.

The Eagles also remain without a wide receivers coach, a secondary coach and a defensive line coach. The team fired receivers coach Carson Walch and d-line coach Phillip Daniels, and secondary coach Cory Undlin accepted the defensive coordinator position with the Lions.

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Here's a sneak peak of the 2020 NFL Draft venue ... and it's 100% Las Vegas

Here's a sneak peak of the 2020 NFL Draft venue ... and it's 100% Las Vegas

The blueprint for the 2020 NFL Draft venue has been revealed and it's just what you would expect it to be in Las Vegas.

The draft has become quite a production in recent years, but this has to top all previous attempts if it's executed the way they're saying.

Reportedly, players will be transported to the stage by a boat. Which could be an epic moment for the draftees ... but could also add a significant amount of time to the already long night of events.

The red carpet stage has a more traditional look when it comes to a draft setting, but since it's Vegas, it's go big or go home.

There are currently mixed opinions about it all, but here are some of the funniest:




The draft will be held from April 23-25 where the Eagles currently hold the 21st overall pick.

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