The Philadelphia Eagles are set to play a rather meaningless football game with their starters on the bench. Kickoff is slated for 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night against the hated Dallas Cowboys.
The debate all week has been whether Nick Sirianni would play his starters in the regular-season finale. It doesn’t appear as if he will. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Jalen Hurts will see “few if any snaps” in Week 18. Hurts told reporters that he was expecting for “business as usual.” That means Gardner Minshew should see plenty of burn.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo agreed with Schefter, adding that Minshew might start Saturday’s game. Remember, Hurts is still healing from a high ankle sprain suffered on November 28 in a 13-7 loss to the New York Giants.
“I continue to expect a lot of Gardner Minshew if not for the entire game tonight as well as a bunch of starters resting or remaining on the COVID list. They still have 11 guys on the COVID list including defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, tight end Dallas Goedert, and running backs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott. Hurts … he’s only a couple of weeks removed from that high ankle sprain.”
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Eagles Make 11 Roster Moves for Week 18
It sure looks and sounds like Sirianni will rest his starters. The Eagles elevated eight players from the practice squad to the active roster four hours prior to kickoff. They were designated as COVID-19 replacements and included: T Kayode Awosika, LB Christian Elliss, DB Jared Mayden, DB Mac McCain, TE Richard Rodgers, TE Noah Togiai, T Casey Tucker, DT Raequan Williams.
Philadelphia also called up running back Jason Huntley and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson as standard elevations and signed kicker Matt McCrane to the practice squad. The team still has 11 players on the COVID-19 list after an outbreak rocked the locker room on January 3. Jason Kelce was the only player cleared from the health and safety protocols. He’s expected to start.
Sirianni Not Worried About Stalling Momentum
DeVonta Smith raised eyebrows earlier this week when he declared he wanted to suit up to avoid halting the team’s momentum. The Eagles are riding a four-game winning streak and have gone 7-2 since a season-changing plane ride back from Las Vegas.
Sirianni was asked for his thoughts on stalling momentum and whether he might play his starters for a series or two just to keep them fresh. The first-year head coach didn’t think it was necessary and cited tough practices as the reason for remaining confident nothing would change.
“I think my confidence is if the decision is to have to rest a couple guys or whatever it is, the way we go about practice and the way we prepare, I have so much confidence in our process and the way we go about how we get ready,” Sirianni said. “I know we practice hard. That doesn’t mean you start fast every single game and things don’t happen in a game where you don’t look great at the beginning, but we practice our tails off here. We practice our butts off here because we know how important practice is to getting ready for the game.”