Hurts is dealing with a sprained SC joint in his shoulder and did not take part in a walkthrough practice on Wednesday but Eagles coach Nick Sirianni continues to leave the QB1’s playing status open-ended when it comes to Sunday’s game against New Orleans.
Sirianni took a similar path last week on a short week before the Christmas Eve loss to Dallas before ruling out Hurts by Thursday in advance of the Saturday game. Backup Gardner Minshew played well in Hurts’ absence but the Eagles could not overcome four turnovers in the 40-34 setback, only their second loss of the season.
“I thought Gardner was really efficient throwing the football,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen dais. “He got the ball out of his hands quickly, really efficient on third down, made some really good plays. … Overall, really strong performance by him.”
At 13-2, the Eagles’ magic number remains one and a loss by Dallas on Thursday night or a Philadelphia win over the Saints would clinch the NFC East. A Philadelphia win or a Minnesota loss to Green Bay later Sunday afternoon would also secure the No. 1 seed in the conference for the Eagles.
“We’ll see how he progresses throughout the week,” Sirianni said of Hurts “Does he have a chance? Of course, he does. His body just knows how to heal, he’s a freak. So we’ll see what happens and how he progresses.”
When pressed on Hurts’ healing powers vs. mere mortals, the affable Sirianni got a little combative.
“If you guys went up and shot baskets together, he’d whoop you,” Sirianni playfully said to Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Sielski. “If you guys went out and raced against each other, he’d whoop you. If you guys went out and, let’s see, tried to throw a football to see who was more accurate or threw further, he’d whoop you.
“So his body heals faster.”
Of course, that was the same message Sirianni had last week and Hurts never practiced before missing the game. The SC joint needs time to rest, along with rehab to regain strength and range of motion.
SC sprains are a little more complicated than the more common AC sprain when it comes to the shoulder, affecting the area where the collarbone meets the sternum. Pushing things could make Hurts more susceptible to a break in the collarbone.
The Eagles did not make either Hurts or Minshew available for the usual starting QB scheduled press conference on Wednesday, calling the situation fluid.
A number of other players missed the walkthrough session on Wednesday as well, including right tackle Lane Johnson (groin), slot cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe), and running back Miles Sanders (knee).
Johnson is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a torn core muscle in his abdomen. He is forgoing surgery in an effort to be available for the Eagles’ upcoming postseason run.
In the short term, Sirianni also played coy on Johnson’s replacement when asked by JAKIB Sports.
“I’m not going to give you that answer because if I give you that answer then I give the Saints that answer, and I want them to have to prepare for all the different options that could possibly happen,” said Sirianni. “We have a lot of different options that could happen. You have Andre [Dillard], you have Jack [Driscoll], you could move Jordan [Mailata]. So there a lot of different options. That’s a great thing to have options because now that guy playing the right side, our right side defensive end, there left side defensive end, has to prepare for different guys.
“It’s good to have options. Let’s say that.”
The betting favorite is Driscoll.
Maddox is out indefinitely with his injury and one potential replacement Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is not ready to return just yet. On injured reserve after suffering a lacerated kidney, the Eagles could have started Gardner-Johnson’s 21-day practice window on Wednesday but failed to so do.
Gardner-Johnson was in the locker room and in good spirits but declined to be interviewed. His target may also be the postseason.
“I know he’s feeling better,” Sirianni said. “I know he’s on the road to recovery and it will be good to get him back when he’s able to get back.”
Sanders was a bit of a surprise addition to the injury list and his status is something to keep an eye on for the rest of the week.
Estimated as limited on Wednesday were receiver A.J. Brown (knee) and defensive tackle Jordan Davis (concussion). Brown spoke at his locker and is expected to play on Sunday and the fact that Davis was limited so early in the week while moving through the league’s concussion protocol is a positive sign.