The news of Jalen Hurts’ injury certainly put some worry in the minds of Philadelphia Eagles fans heading into a Christmas Eve showdown with rivals Dallas Cowboys, but head coach Nick Sirianni isn’t set to rule the third-year quarterback out of eligibility.
Hurts was officially diagnosed with a sprained shoulder during Sirianni’s press conference on Tuesday, an injury he suffered in the third quarter of Sunday’s 25-20 victory over the Chicago Bears. Hurts rushed for three touchdowns and totaled over 350 yards in the win at Soldier Field, but also threw two interceptions, a slight blemish to his overall stats on the day.
A victory over the Cowboys on Saturday will officially clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC, as well as the NFC East title for the Eagles, giving Sirianni and his squad ample time to rest players before the start of the playoffs. However, with Dallas also fighting to stay alive in the division, and earn a statement victory of their own, the Eagles will be pushed to the limit at AT&T Stadium.
Hurts will provide the Eagles with the best chance to complete a regular-season sweep of the Cowboys this weekend, and Sirianni isn’t doubting the former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback’s toughness ahead of a rivalry showdown.
“I’m never going to put a timetable on anybody,” Sirianni said Tuesday. “I know you will always try. I’ll never put a timetable on him. He has a sprained shoulder, and I don’t put anything past [QB] Jalen Hurts as far as his mental and physical toughness. There’s a chance he could play this week.
“He is one of the toughest guys I know, and he heals fast,” Sirianni added. “He’s a freak. His body is not like, pardon me, yours or mine. I’m shaming myself there a little bit, too. His body is not like ours. He heals fast. He came back fast from his injury last year, and I will not rule him out, will not put a timetable on him, and we’ll see. We’ll see what happens this week. He’ll be ready to go if he can play this week, and so will [QB] Gardner [Minshew].”
Should Hurts not be ready to go, backup quarterback Gardner Minshew will get the nod under center for the Eagles. Minshew last started for the Eagles in Week 13 of the 2021 regular season, filling in for an injured Hurts at MetLife Stadium. Minshew threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-25 passing for the Eagles in a 33-18 victory over the New York Jets, making smart decisions with the football.
Minshew has mainly been a spectator for the Eagles since then, but has the ability to come in and gel quickly with A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and several other talented players. With Brown and Smith continuing to excel as one of the best 1-2 wide receivers tandems in the league, tailback Miles Sanders already eclipsing the 1,000 rushing yard mark, and tight end Dallas Goedert expected to return to action, Minshew will be in good hands if he has to start.
“He’s what you want out of your backup quarterback, to be ready with limited reps,” Sirianni said about Minshew. “Now, we’re able to do things differently here than I think most places I’ve been. We take a lot of time, and we have a lot of developmental reps.
“Like I told you guys, some of the developmental periods that we stuck with from last year that we continue to have is like, hey, do we want to cut this, no, [QB] Gardner Minshew rule,” he added. “Gardner wasn’t here in the last training camp, right, two years ago training camp, and we gave him those developmental periods and he developed in the offense. We already knew he was a great player, but he developed in the offense so if his number got called, he would be ready to play, and he went out there and played. But it’s Gardner first and foremost, his ability to be able to do a lot without reps because of just how high his football IQ is.”
The Cowboys come into the Week 16 contest off the back of a shocking 40-33 overtime loss at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at [email protected].
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