Corey Clement has a new appreciation for the little things.
The Eagles running back went down with a knee injury last November and returned to seven-on-seven drills Thursday during training camp.
The long layoff gave him a new perspective on the fickle nature of the NFL.
“Every day I get a chance to even stretch with the team, that means a lot,” Clement said. “I missed being in the huddle. I missed being a part of a scheme. So now, I’m not really taking anything for granted, realizing that your time is really limited in the league, so you have to make the most of your opportunity."
The former Glassboro High School and University of Wisconsin star rejoined a crowded backfield, with players who are competing for spots on the 53-man roster.
After a promising rookie season in which he rushed for 321 yards, Clement caught a touchdown pass and led the team in receiving yards in Super Bowl LII.
But Clement struggled to expand his role before getting injured last season. He rushed for 260 yards on nearly as many carries as he had in 2017.
The Eagles had four running backs on roster at the start of last season and five in 2017. They went into Week 1 last year with Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Clement.
When Ajayi and Sproles went down with injuries, former Central Bucks South standout Josh Adams was signed off the practice squad and tallied 511 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season.
The Eagles chose not to re-sign Ajayi this season, but they added Jordan Howard via trade and drafted Penn State running back Miles Sanders in the second round, meaning two spots are seemingly locked up. The other two or three slots will go to Clement, Adams, Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey, Sproles, or Boston Scott.
“It’s been fun, guys competing with each other, guys pushing each other,” Adams said. “When you have a great running back room like we have, guys are picking each other up and pushing each other and competing.”
Still not yet cleared for team drills, Clement will have to continue savoring the small steps he’s taking.
He’s hoping to be a full participant in practice by next week, but Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he was not certain when Clement would be back in the mix.
“There’s no timetable on when he can come back,” Pederson said. “But we still have to get him ready. Seven-on-seven today was good for him, just to get back into seeing live defenses, live route running. It was a good start for him today.”
Clement said he’s not worried about the crowded running-back room, and the urge to earn the spot won’t rush him back.