Philadelphia Eagles

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."

NFL Notes: Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots

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NFL Notes: Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots

BOSTON -- Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, his lawyer said on Thursday in announcing a lawsuit against the NFL and the team for hiding the true dangers of the sport.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had Stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive disorders.

"We're told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron's age," attorney Jose Baez said.

Hernandez killed himself in April in the prison cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder. Baez said Hernandez had shown signs of memory loss, impulsivity and aggression that could be attributed to CTE (see full story).

Jets: Williams limited with bone bruise in wrist
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams was limited at practice with a wrist injury that he says is a bone bruise.

Williams was originally injured during the preseason, and says Thursday that his wrist is bothering him at times. It doesn't appear that the injury will keep him out of the Jets' home opener Sunday against Miami, but Williams might have to play through it.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson sat out practice for the second straight day with a sore shoulder. He said Wednesday that it wasn't a big deal, and coach Todd Bowles says the Jets will see how it feels as the week goes along.

Starting right guard Brian Winters (abdomen) and tight ends Jordan Leggett (knee) and Eric Tomlinson (elbow) also didn't practice. Fourth-year backup Dakota Dozier would start if Winters is unable to play (see full story).

Packers: Perry latest key player to go down with injury
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The banged-up Green Bay Packers have lost another key player to injury with outside linebacker Nick Perry scheduled to have hand surgery.

Coach Mike McCarthy says he doesn't know how much time Perry will miss. He was off to a good start as the bookend to fellow edge rusher Clay Matthews with 1 sacks.

The Packers' first-round draft pick in 2012, Perry had a breakout 2016 last season with 11 sacks in 14 games.

The loss of Perry places added importance on the return of Ahmad Brooks, who was a full participant in practice on Wednesday after missing the Week 2 loss at Atlanta because of a concussion (see full story).

Broncos: Miller baffled by low hit from Cowboys receiver
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Von Miller says he's baffled by Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown's low hit on him Sunday.

The Broncos linebacker pushed through Brown's block on the game's second snap and Brown got up and dived at Miller's knees as Denver's star chased down Ezekiel Elliott on a hand-off from Dak Prescott.

Miller shook off the hit to have a monster game in Denver's 42-17 win , but he has dealt with soreness in his left knee this week.

"My stance is as a player I've always tried to take care of my players on my football team and opponents as well, whether it's the quarterbacks, receivers, the running backs. So, when it's the other way around, it's just baffling," Miller said Thursday after returning to practice full-time following a limited practice Wednesday.

"But you can't really spend too much time on it," Miller added. "Everybody's situation in the National Football League is different. Everybody doesn't have the same outlook that I have and some of my comrades in the National Football League (have). Everybody doesn't see it that way. Everybody doesn't play the game like I play the game. You've got to respect that."

Earlier in the week, Broncos coach Vance Joseph declined to criticize the Cowboys wide receiver for his low hit, saying, "I saw it. It wasn't called. I'm OK with it."

Miller shook off the low hit and finished the afternoon with two sacks, five quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.

Chris Long: Putting 'my money where my mouth is' with donation of game checks

Chris Long: Putting 'my money where my mouth is' with donation of game checks

Whether it was his passionate defense of Colin Kaepernick, his show of support for Malcolm Jenkins' raised fist by draping his arm around his teammate during the national anthem or his strong words about racism and violence in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, Chris Long has been extraordinarily outspoken since he joined the Eagles.

Now he's more than outspoken.

"I had a few people that were like, 'Hey, these gestures are great but why don’t you guys get out there in your communities?'" Long said.

So he is.

Long announced via his Twitter account earlier this week that he plans to donate his first six game checks from this year's salary — more than $350,000 — to create two scholarships for students in Charlottesville.

At his locker on Wednesday, he explained what led to the remarkably generous gesture.

"My wife and I have been investing in scholarships in my hometown for a while," Long said. "I'm interested in education, always have been, and … the best way I can give back to something I love is take it out of my game check, because what I love doing is playing football.

"I could [fund the scholarship] another way, but just taking it out of my game check makes it real easy for me to realize why I’m coming to work every day. It’s been a blessing."

Long, 32, is in his 10th NFL season and first with the Eagles. He's the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, who graduated from Villanova in 1981.

Chris Long had his first sack as an Eagle Sunday against the Chiefs. He now has 59½ in his career.

"I’ve been lucky," Long said. "I’ve made a lot of money in my career, so it’s not like I’m scrapping check to check. This isn’t a hero thing. It’s nothing like that. It’s honestly just that I want to put my money where my mouth is.

"It’s something we’ve done before, but we’re upping the ante this time."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles this offseason after winning a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last year, the first time he's ever played for a team with a winning record.

His 2017 base salary is $1 million, which means each of his 17 game checks equal $58,823. Six game checks equal $352,941.

Long said being able to donate that kind of money makes the game more meaningful for him.

“It for certain does," he said. "It means a lot to go out and play football every Sunday. To be honest, I would play games for free. The thing I wouldn’t do for free is sit in meetings and do practice every day.

"Honestly, it’s a joy no matter what. But just knowing that the game checks are going to that makes it more special for me. You know, 10th year, you don’t know how long you’ll be able to do this, so your platform is really important and meaningful now. You don’t know how meaningful it’ll be in a year or two.”

Long said he's not done yet, either.

His foundation — the Chris Long Foundation — has more charity work in store in the coming weeks.

"My foundation is going to launch another campaign this year that’s going to be similar that’s hopefully going to have some fan involvement," Long said.

"It’s going to be broader reaching than just a couple kids getting scholarships, so I’m excited about that."