January 13, 2023
The Eagles clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC with their Week 18 win over the Giants. They desperately needed the first-round bye that comes with being the top team in the conference. After a two-game absence with a right shoulder sprain, MVP candidate quarterback Jalen Hurts returned to the lineup. While he guided the Eagles to a win, it was clear that the QB wasn't totally himself, still in pain and still recovering from that SC joint sprain he suffered in Week 15.
"We didn't feel like there was more risk, but I know he was hurting," head coach Nick Sirianni said to reports after the win on the thought process of having Hurts back out there. "He was hurting bad. But that's the kind of competitor that he is. That is the kind of person that he is and the kind of teammate and leader that he is that he was able to go out there and tough through it."
Following the game, Hurt said, "I had some things I had to battle within myself. I knew I wanted to be available for my team."
Clearly, that shoulder isn't exactly where Hurts and the organization want it to be right now. That bye works in the Eagles' favor though. After their Jan. 8 regular season finale, the Eagles won't take the field again until Jan. 21 or Jan. 22 in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, giving more time for Hurts to rest up.
To attempt to gain a greater understanding of what Hurts is going through, PhillyVoice spoke with Dr. Christopher Selgrath, an orthopedic surgeon at Nazareth Hospital, to get an expert's take.
"I think another two weeks is going to do him well," Selgrath said regarding how this bye week is so important to Hurts' recovery process. "I don't think he re-injured anything. Some of his pain and soreness came from some of the stifness and lack of activity from the last two weeks. I think some of that is expected. Some of the soreness is coming from the original injury.
"Arguably, he came back a little soon, but I don't think it caused any irreparable damage. I think it's more that he came back a little early, felt some soreness and pain because of that, but I think now, given another two weeks, I think he's going to be in pretty good shape."
There's optimism here.
"Roughly speaking, it was a Grade 1 sprain," Selgrath said about Hurts' shoulder sprain that came in a win over the Bears on Dec. 19. "I think four weeks is a pretty good timetable to come back almost 100 percent. It's a little hiccup that he had to come back sooner, but I think he'll get through it and another two weeks is going to do him really well, especially with all the modality they can try.
"I think the bye week is really pivotal for him to get more rest. If he had to play this week, I think it would be a little rough."
The the more rest Hurts can get, of course, the better. The Eagles are thankful they clinched that bye to help with the team's injury situation not just because of Hurts, but because of other players on the roster as well, including All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson.
"I think halftime will be a little rough for both of them," Selgrath said about what can be expected when both Hurts and Johnson return to action in the postseason. "You come in, you're taking off 20, 25 minutes of the game and get stiff. Look for the second half to be a little more achy and painful because some of the meds wear off as well. That's not the greatest layoff for those guys when it comes to having that opportunity. Things get tight and all of a sudden can get more sore. I think they'll both be able to play through the injuries.
"Two more weeks can tell a lot. You'd be surprised. 7-10 days from now, they might be in a great place."
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and guest authors and do not reflect any official policy or position of any NFL team or a team's athletic physicians.
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