On the very first play of the Eagles' season, Corey Clement raced down the field on kickoff coverage and made the tackle on Washington's Bashaud Breeland.

Clement, an undrafted free agent playing in his first NFL game, got up and pumped his fist, then went to the bench.

That was pretty much the extent of Clement's contribution in his debut.

Clements and other rookies seemed fine with that. They came into the season with a veteran-laden team with playoff aspirations, and it's hard to rely on rookies for a playoff run.

But that has started to change, mostly out of necessity because of injuries, but also because of their rapidly improving play. Now, many of them are getting the chance to play significant roles even though the Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 6-1 heading into their game Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

In the Eagles' seasoning opening 30-17 win on Sept. 10, Clement didn't get into the game on offense. He just played on special teams.

"It was a great feeling," Clement said. "I wanted to make an impact and I did on my very first play."

Clement was one of only three rookies — first-round pick Derek Barnett and fourth rounder Mack Hollins were the others — to dress that day from a class that included Clement and the Eagles' eight draftees.