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."

Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

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Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro break down the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the Patriots at the Linc. 

After a quick start, the offense disappeared. Receivers are still an issue. And Carson Wentz deserves blame too. 

At least the defense showed up, though. 

• Big takeaways from the loss
• The offense completely collapsed
• Yeah, receivers are still a problem 
• Carson Wentz is not without fault 
• Some wicked good defense  
• Why wait so long to sign Ajayi? 
• Where do the Eagles go from here? 

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Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

With one play, Nelson Agholor could have erased what was an otherwise miserable offensive afternoon for the Eagles at the Linc against the Patriots. 

He couldn’t do it. 

The ball popped out of Agholor’s hands in the back of the end zone on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. It was a play that could have tied the game. That pretty much sealed the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champs (see Roob's observations).

It was a frustrating end to what was another frustrating performance from the Eagles’ wide receiver group, this time without Alshon Jeffery, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. 

“We gotta be better,” Agholor said. “I mean, that’s the reality of it. There’s no excuse. We just gotta be better.” 

Carson Wentz certainly didn’t have his best performance and he even missed a couple big throws on the penultimate drive that could have tied the game. But with 1:05 left, he was able to get off that fourth-down pass with pressure in his face and hit Agholor in the hands in the back of the end zone. 

Agholor, who has been having an unfortunate contract season, said he tried to track the ball over his shoulder and actually thought he did a good job of tracking it. 

“Yeah, I did,” Agholor answered when asked if he tracked the ball well. “If anything, I kind of hit the ground and that’s when I lost it.”

But it looked like Agholor might have overrun the ball and then had to contort his body in an attempt to haul it in. His knee did hit the ground hard and he grabbed it in pain after the play. 

There might have been some wind too. 

"The ball did travel weird, but at the end of the day, it’s the NFL, you gotta find a way to track it down," Agholor said. "And I thought I followed it. On the way down, I kind of hit the ground hard and moved it." 

Once again on Sunday, the Eagles didn’t get nearly enough production from their wide receivers. This time, they were without Jeffery, but the lack of plays from that position has been a trend the entire season, even with him. 

Look at Sunday’s receiving numbers for the Birds: 

Tight ends and running backs: 14 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD 

Receivers: 6 catches, 75 yards  

And until that second-to-last drive, the Eagles’ receivers had just 22 receiving yards. So that group went nearly the entire game without making any significant impact. 

Without Jeffery, you can certainly say this group isn’t talented enough. But Agholor is getting paid $9.4 million, JJ Arcega-Whiteside was a second-round pick and Jordan Matthews, although he’s been back just a week, has had a relatively productive NFL career. Even Mack Hollins made plays in two games earlier this year. 

Agholor: 4 catches on 9 targets, 40 yards

Arcega-Whiteside: 1 catch on 1 target, 29 yards 

Jordan Matthews: 1 catch on 6 targets, 6 yards 

Mack Hollins: 1 target

“Everybody’s gotta step up, meaning me,” Agholor said. “I only had, what, four catches? I gotta make more plays.”

It would certainly help if the Eagles got some more plays from their receivers, but at this point in the season, it’s unrealistic to expect a switch to get flipped. The Eagles have had most of their success with long drives, dinking and dunking their way down the field. 

For months, the Eagles have said the chunk plays are coming. They’re not. 

Why is Wentz so confident they’ll get more firepower from these players? 

“For me, I get to see all these guys at practice,” Wentz said. “I think everyone in here and in the public doesn’t get to see it. So I have a lot of confidence in the guys that when their number’s called, they’re going to make plays.”

Maybe Wentz has confidence — and maybe he should — but it would be misguided for anyone else to have it. These receivers kind of are what they are at this point. Was anyone really surprised Agholor failed to haul in that catch at the end of the game? 

I didn’t think so. 

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