Jalen Hurts wasn’t on the Eagles’ injury report Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean the throwing shoulder injury that has sidelined the quarterback for every game but one over the past month isn’t a storyline heading into Saturday night’s NFC divisional game against the Giants.
In fact, it could be a deciding factor in it. Especially if the Giants are able to exacerbate it with a few well-timed, well-placed hits.
Hurts said he isn’t worried about that, though, practically daring the Giants to come after him.
"It’s football,” he said. “I've got a bounty on me every week I go out there on the field. I'm going to go out there and just play my game, and whatever happens, happens.”
The only game Hurts has played since his Dec. 18 injury was against the Giants in the Week 18 contest when the Eagles needed a win to clinch the top seed and a bye in the NFC while the Giants rested most of their defensive starters with their playoff position already established.
In that game, Hurts was clearly limited. Or at least the Eagles’ desire to have him run with the football was. He wound up with nine carries, mostly on scrambles and not designed runs, for 13 yards. In the first 14 games of the season he averaged 11.1 carries for 53.3 yards.
“I think you’ve got to prepare for everything,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “[Hurts is] a dynamic player. I’ve said this before, he can throw it, he can pass it. That’s why he’s up there for MVP. And we’ve got a big challenge ahead.”
Clearly, though, the Eagles’ offense was hampered when Hurts wasn’t a mobile threat. The Eagles won that Jan. 8 game, 22-16. With a healthy Hurts they beat the Giants on Dec. 11, 48-22.
“When you look across the league, guys who can run the ball at a high level, he has to be up there with the top quarterbacks right now,” safety Julian Love said. “He’s efficient, and his ability to run the ball, to scramble, opens up a lot of things for their offense… It’s a problem because of who’s at quarterback for them. He’s a good player.”
The Eagles were 14-1 in games when Hurts started this season.
“He’s better today than he was two weeks ago,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Tuesday morning. “He’s continuing to get better and he feels good. I’ll let him tell you how he feels. But I'm looking forward to seeing him go out there and practice today and go through everything.”
Like everyone else, Hurts is better when he is healthy.
How healthy he actually is will likely become much more apparent early in Saturday’s game than it was made on Tuesday’s injury report from a walk-through. How healthy he is by the end of the game could determine who moves on to the NFC Championship Game.