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September 13, 2018

Eagles' Corey Clement could be special teams go-to guy if Darren Sproles is out

Eagles NFL
020618CoreyClement Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement

The Eagles' latest injury report listed just two players as having not practiced at all Thursday — Darren Sproles and Shelton Gibson.

What do those two players have in common? At least so far, they've been the Eagles' special teams return men. 

On Sunday in Tampa, someone else may need to be the guy — and all signs point to second-year running back Corey Clement.

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"I try and pride myself in not being a single dimensional player," Clement said Thursday afternoon. "I try and get my feet into everything I can. I'm not a selfish person. I can contribute in many ways, not just as running back. I've been working with [special teams coach Dave] Fipp to see how I can help on special teams to fill the void."

You mean, kind of like the way he filled the void last season as a pass-catching back after catching virtually no balls while in college?

"As a football player you want the most touches you can possibly get, especially in this league," Clement, who famously caught four passes for 100 yards to lead the Eagles in Super Bowl LII, said. "The chances don't always come on offense so I need to be prepared when my name is called.

"I'm always open to new plays, new positions — it gives me a different perspective on football."

The only other Eagles player who returned last year was Wendell Smallwood, and wide receiver DeAndre Carter could also line up to return. 

Gibson has a knee injury and Sproles a hamstring and neither is expected to miss substantial time, but a real possibility exists that neither plays in Week 2 with such a late listing on the injury report. How can one replace the contributions Sproles gives a football team? 

No one really can, Clement says.

"Darren just has a knack for anything he puts his mind to," the Glassboro, New Jersey, native said, "whether it's pass protection, punt return, kick return. I don't want to be like Sproles. Nobody else should be like Sproles, but Sproles. I try and learn from him, and it's hard. That guy is very crafty and very shifty, he knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off — he's a future Hall of Famer I'm trying to learn from."

In Week 1, Clement had five carries while Sproles had five rushes and caught four balls on seven targets. Jay Ajayi led all backs with 15 rushes and two touchdowns. Clement's all-around workload could increase, making him quite start-able in fantasy leagues.

There's a chance the ground game will be utilized quite a bit, with humid temperatures expected to be above 90 degrees.

"Just know it's going to be hot through all four quarters," Ajayi said. "I know we definitely need to be hydrated and do our IVs and make sure we're ready to go. It's going to be a hot one."


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