The Eagles are back from their bye week and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Wednesday, giving some injury updates and revealing that Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew will split reps this week. He also talked a bit about the ongoing COVID situation around the league and some of the precautions they’re taking, as well as what he’s seen from rookie WR DeVonta Smith this season.
Sirianni was quick to point out that his message to the team right now is to take things one game at a time and not pay attention to the playoffs. They have to do everything they can to put themselves in a position to win this week, and they can’t think about anything that comes after that.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
- Sirianni noted that there is no update as far as Brandon Brooks’ status, and he’s still on IR.
- As for Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, and Jordan Howard, Sirianni said they are all trending upwards and they’ll see how things go throughout the week as for their availability on Sunday.
On Hurts and QB position
The head coach later said that he was encouraged with where Hurts was thanks to the extra week off, but pointed out that he was hopeful the QB would play two weeks ago, so they’ll see how things progress.
He noted that Wednesday’s practice is a walk-through, and for now, at least, Hurts and Gardner Minshew will split reps. They’ll have to see how Hurts is feeling before determining how many practice reps he’ll be able to take through the remainder of the week. Sirianni later explained his rationale behind the decision to split reps, and he pointed to the unknowns — similar to ahead of their Week 13 game — and he wants to be prepared whether Hurts is or isn’t able to play.
Hurts spoke just a little after Sirianni on Wednesday, and didn’t seem quite as optimistic about playing on Sunday as he had two weeks ago, but said he’s doing everything in his power to be available for the team.
More updates from NFL insiders:
Discussed this on NFL Now on @nflnetwork. Nick Sirianni said he doesn't know how the week will go for Jalen Hurts so he has to have Gardner Minshew ready. Compared it to two weeks ago, though they knew early that week Hurts was unlikely to go. This time feels legit questionable. https://t.co/vVpp8ergIu— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 15, 2021
On the COVID situation around the league
“We’re very aware, obviously, of everything that’s going on and we’re taking precaution of what we’re doing. I’m not going to get into everything that we’ve done that’s different, but we’re taking precaution to make sure that we have a competitive advantage over other teams.”
He was then asked if they are keeping Hurts and Minshew separated to prevent an issue with spread, and Sirianni confirmed that they’re trying to keep everyone separate and they’ve done some shuffling of their meeting rooms.
Following Sirianni’s media availability, several players spoke as well, and notably had masks on — that they pulled down to speak — as they sat down. These players, like Darius Slay, Miles Sanders, and Jason Kelce, previously hadn’t worn masks to interviews, so one step the Eagles are taking is presumably extra emphasis on mask wearing around the facility.
The head coach also acknowledged that they were fortunate to come back from a bye week and, with everyone being tested, they only had a couple players test positive. He said it was a credit to the guys for staying safe and cautious during their time off.
As for this week’s Eagles opponent and their growing number of players on the COVID/reserve list, Sirianni said that they don’t have a list of Washington players who are vaccinated and might still be available on Sunday and they just have to prepare for everyone to play.
On the medical staff
Something that hasn’t often been a bright spot for the Eagles seems to have turned a corner this season, and in addition to how they’ve handled COVID protocols, they’ve also seen fewer injuries — and long term injuries — than in years past. Sirianni credited the group effort by the trainers, strength staff and doctors. He also talked about how as the head coach, he’s more involved than ever before with the medical meetings, so he’s seeing more of how those things are handled.
On what they’ve seen from DeVonta Smith
“Just him being a playmaker — the playmaker we thought he was. And, he’s just done a great job when we’ve targeted him, made plays in timely spots, has been able to win one-on-one. We know the routes we feel really good about him winning one-on-one. We know the routes he needs to work at more. But, just obviously excited that we have him on our team and that we have a go-to wide receiver like we have in DeVonta.”