PHILADELPHIA − There is more than just the starting quarterback for the Eagles to decide upon by the time they play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
While it’s not official, Gardner Minshew will get a second straight start for Jalen Hurts, who’s nursing a sprained shoulder. Hurts practiced on a limited basis Thursday, the first time he practiced since hurting his shoulder Dec. 18 against the Bears.
Hurts was also limited in practice Friday and listed on the injury report as doubtful for the game Sunday.
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Earlier Friday, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni wouldn’t divulge Hurts’ status for the game, saying: “(Hurts’) health is always taken into consideration first, and if it’s safe for him to be out there.”
Then he added: “He ain’t wearing a red jersey on Sunday.”
Minshew wouldn’t divulge any details, either.
“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 is in fact starting.
“Ifs and buts,” Minshew said.
Rest and rehab are the best remedy 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 seed in the NFC playoffs, and the first-round bye that goes with it.
Some players made it seem like they knew hurts wasn’t going to play.
“I was happy to see Jalen back on the field,” running back Miles Sanders said. “He’s still got to go as his body tells him to. We’re going to be ready whenever he’s ready. But the main important thing is get rest and get as healthy as possible.”
In that case, five weeks from the time of the injury until the Eagles’ first playoff game, assuming they clinch the top seed, are better than two. Or if Hurts does play in the season finale next week against the Giants, that’ll still be three weeks of rest.
And if the Eagles have the top seed locked up, Hurts would get the bye week before their first playoff game.
Minshew threw for 355 yards last Saturday in the Eagles’ 40-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, with 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,” tight end Dallas Goedert said. “Shoot, I mean, his completion percentage was good, his yards was good. We gotta limit some of the turnovers. And with another game under his belt, I think it will clean up even more.”
Goedert’s statement made it seem as if Minshew will get “another game under his belt.”
At right tackle, Lane Johnson is expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a torn adductor muscle in his abdomen. Johnson reportedly decided to put off 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 going nearly 1,000 passing downs since he last allowed a sack.
The Eagles had a number of options, but it appears as if Jack Driscoll will replace Johnson, although Sirianni wouldn’t confirm that. The Eagles could use Andre Dillard at right tackle, or even put Dillard at left tackle and move Jordan Mailata to right tackle.
“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 this 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 side. The Eagles did move Mailata to right tackle last season for one game, with Dillard starting at left tackle. That was when Johnson missed three games to deal with a mental health illness.
Sanders said Johnson is a “big loss,” but he’s confident in Driscoll.
“We got a lot of confidence in Jack,” Sanders said. “I got a lot of confidence in Jack, and he’s going to get the job done.”
As for Sanders, he didn’t practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, but he did practice on a limited basis Thursday and was a full participant Friday. Sanders is listed as eligible to play Sunday.
“It was nothing really major,” Sanders said. “They’re just being cautious, letting me rest a little bit. It’s late in the season, so it’s nothing to really worry about.”
In addition to Hurts listed as doubtful, the Eagles ruled out Johnson and DB Avonte Maddox (toe) for the game against New Orleans. Everyone else is eligible to play.
Contact Martin Frank at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.
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