Eagles coach Nick Sirianni looked at his team’s extensive injury report and made a decision he might regret.
His franchise quarterback, Jalen Hurts, will start behind a potentially makeshift offensive line in the preseason opener against the Jets at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Linc.
With 40 percent of his starting offensive line injured or out, Sirianni determined Hurts would take snaps.
No matter the potential cost?
Sirianni said the starters on the Philadelphia Eagles roster will play a series or two against the Jets. When asked straight-up about Hurts, Sirianni responded: “Still saying one or two series with him.”
Starting left tackle Jordan Mailata and back-up Andre Dillard — guys who protect Hurts’ blindside — are recovering from concussions and while they’re back at practice, it’s unknown if they will play against the Jets.
All-Pro center Jason Kelce will not play as he recovers from a “clean-out” elbow surgery. Sirianni said rookie Cam Jurgens will start Friday.
At practice Wednesday, Sua Opeta got first-team reps at left guard over starter Landon Dickerson, who is not on the injury report. Will Dickerson play Friday? If not, 60 percent of the starting offensive line might not play.
WHY TAKE A CHANCE?
Hurts played in last year’s first preseason game, handling the ball 10 times. Hurts played the first two series in a 24-16 loss to the Steelers, completing 3-of-7 passes for 54 yards.
- If you say: It’s only 10 snaps, what could happen?
- That’s my point.
- Is the risk to Hurts’ health worth 10 lousy snaps? What if, my goodness, Hurts does get injured? In practice, Hurts wears a bright red jersey and no one touches him.
- The Jets don’t have the same non-proliferation arrangement. They will be coming hard at Hurts and the Eagles.
Why not just hold off playing Hurts for a week when at least his left tackle should return? If the preseason games are meant to prepare Hurts for the regular season, why rush it? Last year, Hurts didn’t play in the second or third preseason game.
CAN JURGENS GET THE JOB DONE?
Jurgens has been impressive in camp and we’ll see if he has the goods in real action.
- Yes, he’s impressive.
- Yes, he’s a rookie.
- Yes, he’s making his first NFL start.
“In a game you can protect guys, you can help guys on the edge,” Sirianni said.
“I’m not saying the guys that are in there are going to need help, but there is more you do as far as game-planning to help players out in a game or spotlight players. We’ve been doing that for a long time.
“We’re always constantly thinking about that when we play good defensive ends. The defensive ends make a lot of money in this league for a reason. They can ruin games.
“That’s constantly on our mind, and it won’t be any different here.”
FEELING GOOD ABOUT JURGENS
Sirianni is confident about Jurgens’ abilities and that he can hold his own against the Jets.
“I’ve seen him be like a sponge around Jason,” Sirianni said. “There are times out there where, you know, hey, listen, there is only one Jason Kelce, but there are times out there he’s doing something and you’re like, ‘Wow, that kind of looked like Jason,’ right?
“Cam has done a nice job of picking everything up and he’s, again, in Jason’s ear trying to get as much information as he can.”
SPEAKING OF KELCE …
Sirianni addressed Kelce’s surgery and recovery time.
- “We were in a situation where he had some discomfort in there and we have time to handle that so he can play this season,” Sirianni said.
- “You know he’s going to have to go through things throughout the season, other things, so something that the doctors and Jason and myself felt comfortable to get it cleaned out and be ready for the long haul ahead.
- “Jason Kelce is the toughest guy I’ve ever been around by far. I’m glad we’re able to be able to do that so he can play with less pain.”
WEEK 1 RETURN?
Sirianni was non-committal about whether Kelce will ready for the Sept. 11 opener at Detroit.
“I don’t ever put a timetable on anybody, as you guys know. We’re hopeful for him,” Sirianni said.
“Like I said, how many, 122 games in a row he played? Yeah, if he’s close, the track record says that he’s going to be — he’ll be ready to go.”
IMPORTANCE OF PRESEASON GAMES
Much of Sirianni’s roster is pre-determined, meaning preseason games are where young players and borderline guys can make a necessary statement.
“I think it’s important for everybody, right [not just young players]?” Sirianni said. “You want to get everybody ready to go.
“Again, we have opportunities to get our starters ready in different ways in the sense of the joint practices [upcoming at Cleveland and Miami] and the different things we do there …
“I think I mentioned this last year, that we’ve had guys make the team because of what they’ve done in the preseason.
“I look at every practice like, ‘I can’t wait to go upstairs and evaluate the practice after this and make the corrections and praise the good things.’ It’s just another opportunity to do that on a different stage.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”