The Eagles backfield will be in the spotlight this weekend after a game in which the unit broke out and amassed 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns. They may be without Darren Sproles, but a flash of potential from Corey Clement was enough to paint a picture of promise moving into week four. For Clement, this game carries extra meaning.
For the first time as a professional, Clement will face offs against former teammate Melvin Gordon. The former Wisconsin Badger is no stranger when it comes to waiting for his opportunity, but a trust in the process is something Gordon instilled in the rookie prior to his NFL departure.
“I remember a lot, especially the two seasons I had, he was always telling me how to compete.” Clement told Chargers.com prior to the combine. “He never wanted to lose and I think that’s a great characteristic for anybody. If I could take anything from him, it would be to never be the last one in the door. Whenever it comes to being competitive, you’ve got to always have the upper edge.”
The UDFA spent plenty of time in the shadow of Gordon. After rushing for over 100 yards in his first two games as a Badger, his role would be reduced to one of watching and waiting apart from another 100 yard outing against Indiana.
After an offseason of hard work, Clement became the first in command behind Gordon and amassed 949 total yards and eleven scores. Gordon meanwhile cemented his draft status by finishing as runner up in the Heisman race and notching a stunning 2,587 yards. We all know what happened once Gordon declared for the NFL Draft, a season in which Clement came into his own.
Although Gordon is now leading his own charge in the NFL and is coming off of a 997 yard season, it didn’t take his former teammate long to make his mark either.
Clement touched the ball six times and amassed 22 yards on his offensive debut on Sunday, the end result of which, was a touchdown he was simply not going to let get away.
The Eagles bought back Kenjon Barner to fill out their roster and replace Darren Sproles, but his role in the offense may be minimal to begin with. If LeGarrette Blount is unable to get going unlike he did on Sunday, the Eagles may well turn to the more physical of the two other backs on the roster to bring that physicality against a Defensive line that thrives on it.
Fans have been pining for Clement’s opportunity since training camp began…and there’s a good chance his first extended offensive look comes against his former teammate…a running back who has had a strong start to the year.
Gordon already has 146 rushing yards this season and two touchdowns to his name. With an emphasis of running the ball for both teams in week 3, we could well see more than our fair share of the former teammates.
Clement’s grit and determination has been praised by coaches throughout the offseason, and with a chance to go up against a former teammate who’s incredible college career kept Clement locked away for a late outburst of production, it will be interesting to see if there is an extra chip on the shoulder for the Eagles running back.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports