PHILADELPHIA – There’s more than just the starting quarterback the Eagles have to decide on by the time they play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Although it is not official, Gardner Minshew gets a second straight start for Jalen Hurts, who is nursing a sprained shoulder. Hurts practiced on a limited basis Thursday, his first time since hurting his shoulder against the Bears on Dec. 18.
Hurts was also limited in practice on Friday and was listed on the injury report as questionable for Sunday’s game.
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Earlier on Friday, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni would not disclose Hurts’ pre-game status, saying, “(Hurts’) health is always taken into consideration first, and whether it is safe for him to be there.”
Then he added: “He’s not wearing a red jersey on Sunday.”
Minshew also declined to disclose details.
“What did coach say?” Minshew said after practice. “He’s the one who makes the decisions, so whatever he said.”
He was then asked if he would be excited if he actually started.
“If and but,” Minshew said.
Rest and rehabilitation are the best cure for Hurts’ ailing shoulder. At the same time, Hurts is having an MVP-caliber season, and the Eagles still need a win to clinch both the NFC East division title and No. 1 spot in the NFC playoffs, and the first round to go with it.
Some players made it seem like they knew Hurts wouldn’t play.
“I was happy to see Jalen back on the field,” said Miles Sanders. “He still has to go as his body tells him. We’ll be ready when he’s ready. But the most important thing is that you get rest and get as healthy as possible.”
In that case, five weeks from the time of the injury to the Eagles’ first playoff game, assuming they bring in the top seed, is better than two. Or if Hurts plays the Giants in the season finale next week, that’s still three weeks of rest.
And if the Eagles locked up the top seed, Hurts would get bye week to their first playoff game.
Minshew threw for 355 yards in the Eagles’ 40-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Saturday, recording two touchdown passes and two interceptions. It was his first start since the regular season finale last year.
“I thought Gardner played a great game,” said Dallas Goedert. “Shoot, I mean, his completion percentage was good, his yards were good. We have to limit some of the turnover. And with one more game under his belt, I think it will clean up even more.”
Goedert’s statement made it look like Minshew would get “another game under his belt”.
On a correct tackle, Lane Johnson is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a torn adductor muscle in his lower abdomen. Johnson reportedly decided to postpone surgery for a chance to play in the playoffs.
Until then, the Eagles will have to replace a Pro Bowl right tackle who hasn’t allowed a sack in more than two years, setting an NFL record for nearly 1,000 passes since he last allowed a sack.
The Eagles had a number of options, but it appears that Jack Driscoll will replace Johnson, although Sirianni would not confirm that. The Eagles could use Andre Dillard as a right tackle, or even put Dillard as a left tackle and move Jordan Mailata to the right.
“We have options, that’s a good thing,” Sirianni said.
Driscoll, the Eagles’ fourth-round pick in 2020, has filled in at both right and left tackle during his career. Earlier in the season, he started at left tackle in place of Mailata, who missed a game with a shoulder injury. Dillard was on injured reserve at the time.
But Dillard has always played on the left. The Eagles tackled Mailata to right for one game last season, with Dillard starting at left tack. That was when Johnson missed three games due to mental illness.
Sanders said Johnson is a “great loss” but he has faith in Driscoll.
“We have a lot of faith in Jack,” Sanders said. “I have a lot of faith in Jack and he’s going to get the job done.”
As for Sanders, he didn’t train on Wednesday due to a knee injury, but he did have limited training on Thursday and was a full competitor on Friday. Sanders is listed as eligible to play for Sunday.
“It wasn’t really important,” Sanders said. “They’re just being careful and letting me rest a bit. It’s late in the season so it’s nothing to really worry about.”
In addition to Hurts being listed as questionable, the Eagles ruled out Johnson and DB Avonte Maddox (toe) for the game against New Orleans. All others are eligible to play.
Please contact Martin Frank at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
This Article Originally Appeared in Delaware News Journal: With QB Jalen Hurts ‘Doubtful’, Eagles Likely to Start Gardner Minshew