'Super Bowl Corey:' Clement Conjuring Rookie Flashbacks
Corey Clement’s fall from grace was almost as quick as his rise.
Three summers ago, Clement defied insurmountable odds and made the Eagles’ 53-man roster. Despite initially being buried on the depth chart, the undrafted rookie appeared in all 16 games and eventually broke into the backfield rotation, totaling 321 yards and three touchdowns as a runner and another 123 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver.
The Glassboro, N.J., native would forever endear himself to Eagles fans with a brilliant performance on the game’s grandest stage. Under the lights of U.S. Bank Stadium, site of Super Bowl LII, Clement reeled in four receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots.
The Super Bowl hero entered his second season in 2018 with heightened expectations but struggled to get into a rhythm early and wasn’t hitting holes with the decisiveness he did as a rookie.
In 14 games, Clement rushed for just 259 yards and two touchdowns and added 192 receiving yards before a late-season knee injury ended his campaign.
Following an arduous rehabilitation process, Clement survived cutdown day again last summer, openinf the season fourth on the depth chart behind Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders and Darren Sproles. It became evident that Clement was rostered primarily for his special teams acumen. Although Clement didn’t figure into the offensive game plan last year – he played just three offensive snaps – the third phase would sustain a significant blow after the first quarter of the season when he went on injured reserve again, this time with a should injury sustained Week 4.
While Clement and Howard were on the mend, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott spearheaded the Eagles’ rushing attack. The duo served as the primary catalyst to jumpstarting a stagnant offense. They began to hit their strides during the crucial December playoff push.
One year later, the backfield landscape in Philadelphia boasts a much different look.
With Howard gone and Sproles now retired, Clement is the elder statesman of the running back room. Though the fourth-year pro has largely become an afterthought following two season-ending injuries, Clement is excited for another opportunity.
“I’m just focused on going balls to the wall,” Clement said. “Let the chips fall where they may and have fun and be excited to get another opportunity to play with the guys and be back in the building.”
Clement figures to compete in a three-back battle against second-year pro Elijah Holyfield and undrafted rookie Mike Warren for what will likely be one spot. All three boast similar skill sets, but at this stage of the offseason, the edge goes to the one-time Super Bowl hero.
If Clement can sustain momentum and stay healthy, the Eagles could potentially have the most diverse running back group in the league. Although Warren and Holyfield offer a higher upside, Clement’s advantage is experience. With the season less than a month away, teams will likely be partial to rostering steady veterans over upside gambles.
As Clement attempts to rekindle the success that once placed him on the fast track to NFL stardom, one teammate thinks he’s well on his way.
“Corey looks great,” Sanders said. “He looks explosive. He looks like Super Bowl Corey to me.” – Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a contributor to InsideTheBirds.com. He also writes for Pro Football Network. Catch the latest "Inside the Birds" podcast here: