Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts suffered a shoulder sprain on Sunday against the Chicago Bears that could sideline him for the next two games, NFL sources told The Inquirer on Monday.
Hurts underwent an X-ray following the Eagles’ 25-20 win in Chicago, and the results were negative. Further testing on Monday revealed the severity of the injury to his right, throwing shoulder, the sources said.
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Initially, the team feared that Hurts’ shoulder could sideline him for an extended period and possibly through the postseason. But after additional tests Monday, the Eagles do not consider it to be a long-term injury, according to the sources.
The quarterback took a beating in a game in which he ran the ball 17 times with two knee-downs at frosty Soldier Field. Late in the third quarter, Hurts kept the ball on a zone read play and after a 3-yard gain he was driven into the ground by Chicago defensive end Trevis Gipson. He appeared to have suffered the injury on the play.
“He just laid there,” Eagles tackle Jordan Mailata said to The Inquirer. “I ran over and said, ‘Stay down.’ And he said, ‘Pick me the [bleep] up.’ And I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ And he goes straight back to the huddle.
“He’s gone [bleeping] fight, man. He’s gritty.”
Hurts has been healthy all season and has yet to miss a snap due to injury as he built a case as the NFL’s MVP. He missed one game to injury last year after suffering an ankle sprain at the New York Giants in late November.
Backup Gardner Minshew took his spot and led the Eagles to a win over the New York Jets the following week. Minshew is likely to start in place of Hurts against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday.
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The Eagles can clinch the NFC East title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs with a victory at Dallas. They have several paths to both, though, and might not need to rush Hurts back. It’s possible he might not play again in the regular season, especially if the Eagles clinch the top spot and get the coveted first-round bye in the postseason.
That would mean Hurts wouldn’t play in a game for almost a month. The divisional round of the playoffs will be held Jan. 21-22.
After the game, Hurts admitted he took some shots, but he downplayed his physical condition.
“I feel good listening to my Anita Baker,” said Hurts, who took to the podium at the postgame news conference with the musician’s soul music playing on his phone. “I’m going to get me some sweets on the plane ride home, watch the tape, learn from it, and move forward.”
Many of his teammates saluted their captain for his toughness but said they didn’t like seeing their quarterback take so many hits. Coach Nick Sirianni minimized some of the blows Hurts seemingly took and said that the straight-on tackles looked worse than they really were.
When questioned about his game plan, which involved heavy early passing and few carries for running backs, Sirianni said he wanted to attack the Bears defense through the air and the Eagles did so with Hurts throwing for 315 yards.
But when running plays were called in the first half, many were zone reads that resulted in Hurts keeping the ball. Four of his runs were also scrambles after he dropped back to pass.
“That was part of our game plan against the defense we were looking at,” Sirianni said. “It’s not necessarily quarterback-centric, but you’re reading things on the backside. … Then a couple called runs, we felt safe with those, and they ended up being safe the way we looked at it.”
Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, who calls the plays, have developed a scheme in which Hurts’ mobility is integral to the offense. As a plus-one in the running game, defenses have to account for the quarterback, which has created space for Miles Sanders and the other running backs.
The Eagles aren’t 13-1 and Hurts isn’t an MVP candidate without his ability to use his legs. But his advancement as a passer in his second full season as the starter is what has helped the offense take off and has arguably moved him into the top tier of quarterbacks.
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Hurts missed just one game after last season’s ankle injury, which occurred when running back Boston Scott stepped on his leg in the pocket. But it was never fully recovered. The Eagles sat him in the meaningless season finale. He struggled in the playoff loss to the Buccaneers, though, and walked into the postgame news conference in a walking boot.
Hurts eventually underwent minor cleanup surgery on his ankle and was back working out by March in preparation for the 2022 season.