PHILADELPHIA — It’s not just the starting quarterback for the Eagles to decide when they face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Although it’s not official, there’s a good chance Gardner Minshew will get a second straight start for Jalen Hurts, who is nursing a sprained shoulder. Hurts practiced on a limited basis Thursday, the first time he has practiced since suffering a shoulder injury Dec. 18 against the Bears.
He did not participate in a ball safety drill open to the media in which coaches use boxing gloves as players try to drop the ball.
The Eagles practice again on Friday, and Hurts may do more. At the very least, the Saints will have to prepare for him and Minshew.
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Rest is the best medicine 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 the No. 1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. , and the first-round bye that goes with it.
To that end, some players gave the impression that the Eagles were leaning towards the Hurts at rest.
Tight end Dallas Goedert said “absolutely not!” when asked if he knew who the starting quarterback would be, he added: “I tried to get a little out of Jalen, but he didn’t really say much. somehow sat in his statue, stuck his lips out, nodded.
“I said, ‘I don’t know what that means, J.’ So we’ll see. It’s still up in the air, but whoever it is, I like our chances.”
Running back Miles Sanders added: “I was happy to see Jalen back on the pitch. He still has to go like his body tells him to. We’re going to be ready when he’s ready. But the most important thing is to rest and be as healthy as possible.”
In this case, five weeks of rest between the time of the injury and the Eagles’ first playoff game, assuming they clinch the top seed, is better than two.
Minshew threw for 355 yards last Saturday in the Eagles’ 40-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. It was his first start since the regular season finale last year.
“I think Gardner played a great game,” Goedert said. “Shoot, I mean, his completion percentage was good, his yards were good. We have to limit some of the turnovers. And with another game under his belt, I think it’s going to clean up even more.”
Goedert’s statement sounds like Minshew will have ‘one more game under his belt’. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni wasn’t scheduled to speak to the media on Thursday, but he is on Friday.
That uncertainty is also true at right tackle, where Lane Johnson is set to miss the rest of the regular season with a torn adductor muscle in his midsection. Johnson reportedly decided to postpone the surgery to have a shot at playing in the playoffs.
Until then, the Eagles will have to replace a Pro Bowl right tackle who hasn’t authorized a sack in more than 2 years, setting an NFL record for nearly 1,000 assists since allowing a sack for the last time.
The Eagles had a number of options, but it looks like Jack Driscoll will replace Johnson. The Eagles could use Andre Dillard at right tackle, or even put Dillard at left tackle and move Jordan Mailata to right tackle.
Driscoll, the Eagles’ 2020 fourth-round pick, has replaced right and left tackles during his career. Earlier this season, he started as a 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 side. The Eagles moved Mailata to right tackle last season for one game, with Dillard starting at left tackle. That’s when Johnson missed three games to deal with mental illness.
Sanders said Johnson was a “big 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 trained in a limited way on Thursday. He said he expected to play against the Saints. Sanders has 1,175 rushing yards this season.
“It was nothing really major,” Sanders said. “They’re just being cautious, letting me rest a bit. It’s late in the season so there’s really nothing to worry about.”
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