PHILADELPHIA — As an undrafted rookie free agent, Corey Clement wasn’t even supposed to be on the Eagles’ roster this season, let alone play a major role in the team’s offensive success.
But as the season has progressed, Clement’s responsibilities have increased.
Clement, who grew up in Glassboro, was a major part of the offense Sunday. He responded by scoring three touchdowns in a 51-23 victory over Denver at Lincoln Financial Field.
“I was just playing football,” Clement said. “I know there are probably some people who didn’t think I was capable of playing like that, but I’ve never lost confidence in myself or my ability. It’s all about just staying humble, staying hungry and working hard.”
Clement, 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, caught a screen pass from Carson Wentz and weaved his way through Denver’s defense for a 15-yard TD in the first quarter. He also scored on a pitchout from Wentz and on a short inside run in the second half.
The Eagles said Clement became the team’s first rookie with a TD reception and run in the same game since Don Johnson in 1953.
“I wasn’t all that surprised,” coach Doug Pederson said. “We started seeing flashes and glimpses of what he was capable of doing back in rookie camp in May. He’s a smart guy, he’s really picking up the offense extremely well, and he runs hard and aggressive. He’s a very, very special running back right now.”
Clement, a former standout at the University of Wisconsin, signed with the Eagles after getting bypassed in the NFL draft.
He was initially viewed as a candidate for the practice squad but impressed the coaching staff with his work ethic and production during training camp and the preseason.
“Going undrafted put a chip on my shoulder that’s still there,” Clement said. “It’s there all the time.”
Against Denver, Clement rushed for 51 yards on 12 carries (4.3 yards per carry) as part of a fascinating backfield-by-committee.
The worries that Jay Ajayi’s arrival in a trade with Miami on Tuesday would cause friction were unfounded. When Ajayi scored on a 46-yard run, Clement and fellow running backs LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood were among the first to congratulate him.
“I just love seeing those backs celebrating when the other guy scores,” Wentz said. “That’s just the culture that we have and the relationship they all have. It’s pretty special.”