December 26, 2022
The Eagles had some of the NFL's best injury luck through the season's first 14 weeks, helping fuel their league-best record and Super Bowl hopes.
But the last two weeks have been costly, as MVP quarterback Jalen Hurts, All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson and stud nickel back Avonte Maddox have all gone down with ailments as the regular season winds down.
Johnson will likely be out until the postseason, and Maddox could be out even longer. But what about Hurts, who looked like he might be able to potentially play through his shoulder sprain until Nick Sirianni said he wouldn't last week?
The reports have been mixed.
Over the weekend, NFL insiders claimed both that Hurts would be missing Week 17 (at home against the Saints) and that he could actually start in the game:
Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts, who will miss Saturday's game against the Dallas Cowboys because of a sprained shoulder, also is uncertain to play against the New Orleans Saints in Week 17, per sources.https://t.co/uuXdBDTVHx— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 24, 2022
From @NFLGameDay Morning: With the #Eagles still having a lot to play for, QB Jalen Hurts (SC joint sprain) is going to push to face the #Saints. Meanwhile, Gronk is still retired… for this season. He won’t be playing for the #Bucs tonight, but the door remains open for 2023. pic.twitter.com/rqV0TFqVJG— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 25, 2022
Head coach Nick Sirianni didn't have much to add, leaving things ambiguous during his Monday afternoon press conference.
"We'll see, one day at a time here," he said. "I know how much he wanted to play last week, and how much he did to get his body ready. With Jalen, it's just his body heals different than yours and mine.
"He is going to do everything he can to get himself healthy and if he's healthy he'll play."
A tinge of optimism, perhaps from Sirianni, but no real information on how Hurts' shoulder is feeling.
Hurts' injury was sustained in the Week 15 win against the Bears in Chicago. He finished the game and threw the ball effectively even after he got hurt. This fueled speculation that the sprain was low-grade and that Hurts might be able to play through it.
With two games remaining this season — both in Philly against the Saints and then the Giants — one win is all that's needed to clinch the NFC East and a first-round bye in the playoffs. It's not the easiest call in the world, but if Hurts is a game-time decision, playing him to earn the starters two weeks of rest before the Divisional Round could be the smartest strategic move.
But then again, so too could trusting Gardner Minshew, fresh off 355 passing yards and a solid but flawed performance against the more talented Cowboys, to beat a non-contending Saints team.
Whatever decision keeps Hurts healthy and earns the Birds the one final win they need will go down as the right one.
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