Eagles running back Corey Clement was placed on injured reserve Friday with a shoulder injury, ending his season.
Clement initially hurt the shoulder while returning a kickoff against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2. The Glassboro native missed the Eagles’ next two games but returned last week against the New York Jets. He was held out of practice this week.
Clement was returning punts in relief of Darren Sproles, who injured his quadriceps against the Jets and is considered week-to-week to return.
The decision to shelve Clement made room for the Eagles to call up running back Boston Scott from the practice squad. Scott could take over the punt-returner spot with Sproles and Clement both out. Eagles wideout Nelson Agholor also has returned punts and is another option.
“We’re going to take a look at [the running-back situation],” coach Doug Pederson said before the news was announced. “We obviously have Boston Scott on the practice squad, so that’s a possibility for us.”
Scott has yet to return a punt in a regular-season game but was the deep man on kickoffs for the Eagles at the end of last season and in both playoff games. He averaged 18 yards per return in the playoffs and 24 yards in the regular season.
He got some reps fielding punts in the preseason and said he’s always been in the mix with other returners during practice.
“Each rep that I got during the preseason and in training camp, the more comfortable I got, so if they want to put me back there, then so be it,” Scott said.
The 5-foot-6, 203-pound back was a sixth-round pick of the Saints in 2018 but didn’t stick in their deep backfield. During the summer, Pederson said Scott was a candidate to fill Sproles’ role before Sproles decided not to retire.
“He’s kind of been the one. If you say you’re going to replace Darren, which you can’t, he would be the guy who has kind of taken that role over right now,” Pederson said in June.
Scott was a walk-on at Louisiana Tech, where he amassed 2,147 yards from scrimmage in addition to returning kickoffs. Other than the preseason, he said the last time he returned punts was in high school.
Rejoining the 53-man roster is a big opportunity for Scott. He’s been studying Sproles’ techniques in all facets, but with a greater emphasis on returning this week. If he’s the one back there, he’ll have to balance his eagerness to make an impact with the importance of staying calm.
“The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. That’s really what it’s been, getting more comfortable, calming down, making the right decisions. That’s what it comes down to," Scott said. “I think [you have to] just focus on the little things."
Clement had issues with ball security on special teams this season. The 24-year-old had two fumbles in three games. One came on the kickoff return against Atlanta in which he was injured, and one on a muffed punt against the Jets. The Eagles pulled Clement in favor of Agholor on punt returns last week but attributed Clement’s mistake to an atypical bounce.
“The ball bounced an awkward way the other day,” Pederson said earlier this week. “He thought that it possibly got touched, so he’s trying to make a play in that situation. So we chalk it up to that.”
Agholor also has a case to return punts Sunday. He returned two last week for 7 yards and has a more decorated track record doing so in college than Scott.
While at USC, Agholor returned four punts for touchdowns over two seasons. Two of those scores, one for 93 yards and one for 75, came in one game against California his sophomore year.
“I’m going to let the coaches decide that, but I’m ready for whatever,” Agholor said. “I’ve been practicing [returns] since I’ve been here. I’m ready to do what I need to do to help out.”