Eagles coach Nick Sirianni hints at Jalen Hurts return for Giants

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Nick Sirianni hints at Jalen Hurts return for Giants originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Nick Sirianni didn’t exactly come out and say Jalen Hurts would be ready to play next weekend.

He came pretty close, though.

And if you need some good news after watching the Eagles lose to the Saints Sunday, there ya go.

It sure sounds like Hurts will be back for the regular-season finale against the Giants after missing the last two games with a sore right shoulder.

“He was close this week,” Sirianni said.

Leading up to the Dallas game, Hurts didn’t practice at all. This past week, he was limited at practice on Thursday and Friday.

So you see how things are trending. In Sirianni’s two years as Eagles head coach, there hasn’t been one player who returned to practice – even on a limited basis – who wasn’t able to play two weeks later.

Is Hurts a lock? Nope.

Is he somewhere around 95 percent good to go? Yep.

The Eagles could sure use him.

“Obviously, we will take it one day at a time,” Sirianni said. “For me to say right now and today that, ‘Yeah, Jalen is playing,’ or, ‘No, he is not playing,’ I don't think is fair to anybody, because so many things can happen in a week.”

Hurts’ MVP season was derailed for two weeks when he hurt his throwing shoulder late in the third quarter of the Eagles’ win in Chicago on Dec. 18.

The Eagles this year are now 13-1 with Hurts and 0-2 without him.

He’s thrown five interceptions in 425 attempts, and Gardner Minshew has thrown three in 76 attempts.

The offense is averaging 28.9 points per game with Hurts on the field and 18.5 without him.

The Eagles desperately need Hurts back, and it looks like they'll get him back.

“We're going to have to evaluate and see where he is,” Sirianni said. “Nothing changes in that aspect of it. His health is the No. 1 priority and not putting him in a position that is going to risk his health. We'll evaluate that as the week goes. Obviously if he's ready to go, he'll play.”

When he got hurt, it seemed like the Eagles wouldn’t need to play Hurts until the playoffs. But with losses in Dallas and to the Saints the Eagles have exhausted their cushion. They now must beat the Giants at the Linc to lock up a first-round bye (or hope for improbable Cowboys and 49ers losses).

Hurts was among the NFL’s MVP favorites when he got hurt.

He leads the NFC with a 104.6 passer rating – that’s 3rd-highest in the NFL – and he’s tied for second with 13 rushing touchdowns. His 67.3 percent accuracy is 5th-highest in the NFL.

He’s already one of only eight quarterbacks in history to win 13 games in a season before his 25th birthday, and a win against the Giants will make him only the second to win 14 games.

Despite missing two games, his 35 total TDs – 22 passing, 13 rushing – are 4th-most in the league and most in the NFC. Only Patrick Mahomes (41), Joe Burrow (39) and Josh Allen (39) have more. Those 35 total TDs are tied with Randall Cunningham in 1990 for most in Eagles history.

Everything changes when Hurts plays. The Eagles run the ball better, they become unstoppable on 3rd- or 4th-and-1, they regain the ability to strike deep.

“Jalen has been playing obviously really good football the entire year and he's one of our better players,” Sirianni said. “He's a leader of our football team.

“Again, we'll see what happens. Obviously, it would be good to have him back just because of the type of person and the type of leader he is.”

But more than anything, the type of quarterback he is.