Hurts a limited participant again but trending up

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Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was a limited participant again on Thursday but is trending in the right direction as the Eagles’ regular season finale against the Giants looms on Sunday.

Hurts, 24, began the week as a limited participant on Wednesday and had the same status on Thursday.

But Eagles receiver A.J. Brown confirmed that Hurts took first-team reps on Thursday.

“We’re all excited. We’re all excited to see him back, doing his thing,” Brown said. “He’s locked in for sure. He definitely had a tempo about him today, even in the walkthrough. He was telling guys to ‘come on, hurry up, get going.’ Glad he’s back.”

Hurts has still not been a full participant in practice since suffering a sprain to his right (throwing) shoulder against the Bears on Dec. 18.

Not only was Hurts up first among quarterbacks in throwing drills on Thursday, but he also participated in the ball security drill. At the Thursday practice last week, Hurts was held out of this drill.

Hurts has missed the last two games with that shoulder injury and the Eagles have dropped both of them — to the Cowboys and to the Saints — with Gardner Minshew starting at quarterback.

Before the injury, Hurts was putting together an MVP case. In 14 games, Hurts completed 67.3% of his passes for 3,472 yards with 22 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He also rushed for 747 yards and 13 more touchdowns.

Any talk of his being a system quarterback has evaporated over the last couple weeks. His absence has been extremely visible.

If Hurts does return to action on Sunday, expect the Eagles’ coaching staff to alter their game plans with his injury in mind. We’ll probably see fewer designed runs and fewer read-options in an attempt to limit his exposure to big hits.

Here’s the Eagles’ full injury report from Thursday:

Did not participate: Lane Johnson (groin), Josh Sweat (neck), Avonte Maddox (toe)

Limited: Jalen Hurts (right shoulder), Miles Sanders (knee), Shaun Bradley (wrist), Janarius Robinson (ankle), James Bradberry (rest), A.J. Brown (rest), Fletcher Cox (rest), Landon Dickerson (rest), Brandon Graham (rest), Jason Kelce (rest), Isaac Seumalo (rest), Darius Slay (rest)

Full: Zech McPhearson (illness)

Johnson and Maddox both suffered injuries a couple weeks ago and will definitely miss Sunday’s game. And Sweat has now missed the first two practices of this week as he gets over a scary neck injury against the Saints. Sweat has said he will return this season but the Eagles will show precaution.

Cornerback Zech McPhearson returned on Thursday after missing Wednesday with an illness.

While they’re not on the injury report because they’re still technically on IR, S C.J. Gardner Johnson (lacerated kidney), DE Robert Quinn (knee) and OL Brett Toth (knee) all practiced for the first time on Thursday.

There’s a chance Gardner-Johnson and Quinn could return for Week 18 but the team will see how they get through the rest of the week.

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