Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts threw the ball with velocity and accuracy in Thursday’s practice, opening the door for his return from a sprained shoulder on Sunday.
Philadelphia (13-2) hosts the New Orleans Saints (6-9) with a chance to wrap up the NFC East division title and conference home-field advantage, which brings the only first-round bye in the NFC.
Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew started in Hurts’ spot in the Christmas Eve loss to the Dallas Cowboys (12-4), who won Thursday night to remain in the hunt for the division crown.
Minshew took the majority of the first-team reps last week. Hurts practiced in a limited fashion Thursday.
“His health is always taken into consideration first,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said Friday. “Is it safe for him to be out there? And then from there you do what’s best for the team. We’re still sorting through that. Obviously Jalen had a good practice (Thursday), went out and did some things really well.”
How Hurts responds physically from ramping up football activity and throwing Thursday, and whether he remains limited Friday, will be key indicators of the direction Sirianni will take. Another factor could be the right tackle position. Starter Lane Johnson (abdomen) is out.
However, Sirianni said last week Hurts is “the toughest guy I’ve been around” and pushed to play against Dallas.
Sirianni took several opportunities to chirp toward the gathered media at Thursday’s practice with playful messages reminding reporters that he wasn’t exaggerating Hurts’ toughness.
“I told ya!” the coach bellowed several times.
Minshew filled in last week and threw for 355 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Hurts is part of the conversation for NFL MVP honors due to his stellar season. He has passed for 3,472 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions, and rushed for 747 yards and 13 scores in 14 games.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday he has become a fan of Hurts.
“He’s a great young player,” Brady said. “He’s throwing the ball well, running it well, sneaking it well. They’re scoring touchdowns, they got a great team.”
–Field Level Media