Clemson University

What the return of Amari Rodgers means for Clemson’s offense, special teams

What Brent Venables said after Clemson win over Texas A&M

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables speaks after the Tigers win over Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.
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Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables speaks after the Tigers win over Texas A&M on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.

Clemson’s offense is off to a strong start in 2019, and the return of Amari Rodgers should make both the Tigers offense and special teams more dangerous moving forward.

Rodgers made his season debut Saturday against Texas A&M, catching a couple of passes against the Aggies, less than six months after suffering a torn ACL during spring practice.

Rodgers came off the bench and played 34 snaps in Clemson’s 24-10 victory, and Tigers coach Dabo Swinney expects Rodgers’ role to increase this weekend against Syracuse and moving forward.

“He’s still working his way back into football day-to-day shape. Obviously that’s the first time he’s played football since he got hurt,” Swinney said. “But it’s huge getting him back. I mean, he’s a great player... just very dynamic, tough, he’s a great leader. He can do a lot of things with the ball after he’s got it.”

Rodgers caught 55 passes for the Tigers a season ago, finishing second on the team in receptions. He was also Clemson’s primary punt returner in 2018, although cornerback Derion Kendrick has taken over that role this season and will continue to, at least for now.

“He certainly gives us a guy that we trust as a returner as well. Right now we’ll stick with DK. He’s done a good job. But we’ll definitely be working Amari back in the rotation,” Swinney said. “And once we feel like he’s back where he needs to be, we’ll see his opportunities continue to go up. But he did a good job. He got in there and had a couple of catches and got tackled and spun around. It’s good for him and good for his confidence moving forward.”

Senior Diondre Overton started each of the first two weeks, and Overton and Rodgers played a similar amount of snaps against the Aggies. Clemson’s three main receivers other than Rodgers are 6-foot-4 in Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross and Overton. Even though Rodgers is 5-foot-10, Swinney believes he has some of the same traits as Clemson’s bigger wide outs.

“He plays big. He is physical, breaks tackles,” Swinney said. “He plays long, does a good job of high pointing balls. He’s got long arms and uses his length. He has a good ability to use his body when he’s making plays and can do things with it after the catch like those guys. He can do anything. There’s nothing that Amari can’t do. He can play any position.”

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Who: Clemson at Syracuse

When: 7:30 pm Saturday

Where: Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York

TV: ABC

Line: Clemson by 24

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