Giants Signing: Ex-NFC East Rival Beats Out Former Falcons RB for Contract

Giants sign RB Corey Clement

Getty Corey Clement (L) & Ito Smith (R).

Kelvin Benjamin wasn’t the only notable NFL veteran to propel a solid tryout showing into a contract this weekend. The New York Giants have announced the signing of former Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement. The 26-year-old was among Big Blue’s five tryout players over the team’s three-day rookie minicamp.

Clement, a New Jersey native, spent the first four seasons of his pro career in Philly flashing an enticing dual-threat skillset. In 46 career games, he accumulated 655 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 163 attempts, while adding another 340 yards and two touchdowns through the air on 37 receptions.

Clement’s biggest claim to fame dates back to his rookie season when the Wisconsin product amassed 108 total yards in Super Bowl LII. His 22-yard touchdown reception was a pivotal turning point in helping the Eagles edge out the New England Patriots, 41-33. Clement’s career-high 100 yards receiving on the night was the fourth-highest total by a rookie in Super Bowl History and the third-most by a running back — regardless of experience.

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Clement Outdueled Ex-Falcons RB Ito Smith for Roster Spot

While Clement ultimately showed enough to land himself a deal, it didn’t come without a little competition. Ex-Falcons running back Ito Smith was also among the Giants’ tryout players over the weekend. A former fourth-round pick, Smith supplanted both Brian Hill and former NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley in Atlanta’s running back pecking order over the final six weeks of last season. From Week 12 on, Smith rushed the ball 50 times for 222 yards (4.4 ypc. average).

By most accounts, the competition between both Smith and Clement was neck and neck following the first day of rookie minicamp.

“Running backs Ito Smith and Corey Clement, here as tryouts, both looked pretty good,” USA Today’s Art Stapleton tweeted. “Each showed shiftiness in passing drills. I’d imagine one of them gets signed to the #NYGiants 90-man roster by the end of the weekend. We’ll see.”

However, Clement began to separate himself on the second day.

“In the perceived battle of tryout vet running backs, thought Corey Clement took a considerable lead on Ito Smith based on their work today,” Stapleton noted. “Smith had a few drops that were noticeable. Overall, it’ll be interesting to see if either made enough of a push to get signed.”

NJ Advance Media’s Zack Rosenblatt backed up Stapleton’s take, highlighting Smith’s drops and limitations on special teams as part of his major takeaways from Day 2:

– Rough go for Ito. The drops do matter for the players trying to make the Giants. Specifically: Running back Ito Smith, one of the Giants’ tryout players and a former Falcons fourth-round pick. At one point late in practice, Smith dropped two passes in a row. His inability to contribute on special teams makes him a longshot to make the 90-man roster at this point.

Joe Judge Talks Rookie Gary Brightwell’s Upside on Special Teams

While Smith may have his limitations when it comes to special teams, Clement certainly does not. The former Eagle boasts a career 25.1 yards per return average on 19 kick returns. He’s also notched 742 special teams snaps over his NFL career.

If Clement ultimately nails down a spot on the team’s 53-man roster, he may very well be sharing the field with sixth-round rookie Gary Brightwell, who caught the eye of head coach Joe Judge as a potential special teams contributor.

“Yeah, I do, I think Gary has enough traits to work with and build with,” Judge said. “He’s a long way from some of the top players in the last few decades and there’s a reason those guys have made a living out of it and won a lot of games and been successful.”

“There’s things you see from Gary as a running back and you saw on his tape in college covering kicks that we are giving him the opportunity to come and compete. But he definitely has the speed and the size to factor in and go out there and give himself an opportunity,” Judge added. “Now at this point it’s just an opportunity. We’ll see what he does with it and it’s up to him and go ahead and carry the coaching to the field, and it’s up to us as coaches to put him in the right position to be successful.”


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