Jalen Hurts might be hobbled, but he’s still playing like an elite QB

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National Football League

Nov. 8, 2023 3:37 p.m. ET

When Jalen Hurts was sacked by Micah Parsons and didn’t immediately get up late in the first half on Sunday, the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field got very quiet. So did everyone on the Philadelphia Eagles‘ sidelines. So did all the Eagles on the field.

And when their quarterback got up very slowly and hobbled off with an obvious and painful limp, everyone in the building had the same thought, too.

“I saw him limping off,” said right tackle Lane Johnson, “and I thought, ‘Oh s—t.'”

What happened next, though, was just another addition to the legend of Jalen Hurts, who has been battling a left knee injury for at least the last month and is still playing at a near-elite level. After a timeout, he hobbled right back onto the field without missing a single snap. And after halftime, he took off running on the third play from scrimmage as if to show everyone that he was just fine.

Then three plays later, he threw a 29-yard touchdown pass.

His final numbers in a 28-23 win over the Dallas Cowboys gave no hint at any physical problems. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns and ran 10 times for 36 yards and a touchdown, too. The Eagles offense trailed off in the second half, but it didn’t appear to be because Hurts was limited.

Somehow, he keeps playing — and playing well — trying not to give any clue into how much pain he might actually be in.

“He’s a fighter, man,” said Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham. “I was so proud of him. I know he’s been dealing with a lot. It’s been a lot of stuff we don’t talk about, that we just keep confidential.”

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Added Eagles coach Nick Sirianni: “He’s tough as heck. Whether his body is feeling 100 percent, whether his body is not feeling 100 percent, he’s a warrior. He’s going to play through bumps and bruises and at a high level because he’s a big-time player.”

This mysterious injury to Hurts’ left knee certainly appears to be something more than typical bumps and bruises. FOX Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer reported that Hurts has been dealing with what was diagnosed as a bone bruise for at least the last month, though it wasn’t clear to anyone outside the Eagles organization that he was hurt until their win over Miami on Oct. 22. Hurts was late coming out of the locker room of halftime that night, and played the second half with a bulky brace on his left knee under his pants.

Hurts and Sirianni have steadfastly refused to give any details about the injury or the treatment Hurts may or may not be undergoing. He hasn’t even been listed on the Eagles injury report during the week, which means he hasn’t missed any time in practice.

“If he can get up and walk off, he’s OK,” said Eagles receiver A.J. Brown, one of Hurts’ best friends on the team. “If he can go, he’s going to go. That’s just who he is. You’re going to have to drag him off the field.”

So far, no one’s been able to do that, though it came close to happening on Sunday when the pocket collapsed around Hurts and he tried to step only to have his left knee collide with the helmet of Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Hurts slowly rolled over, got up on his knees and had to try twice to push himself up off the ground. Once he did, he was still hunched over at the waist and slowly hobbled off the field with a bad limp.

Again, he looked fine after that, and he did run five more times in the second half of the game. The Eagles clearly limited his running two weeks ago when he ran just twice in a 38-31 win over the Washington Commanders (not counting two kneel-downs at the end of the game). But against the Cowboys, the reigns were clearly off.

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And if he really has been suffering through a knee injury for a month, it’s hard to know that from his play. Since the start of October, the Eagles have gone 5-1 and Hurts has only had one bad game — a three-interception nightmare in a 20-14 loss to the New York Jets, who have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Overall in those six games, he’s averaging 284.5 passing yards, his completion percentage is 69.3, and he’s thrown 12 touchdown passes with five interceptions.

He’s run 57 times for 216 yards and four touchdowns in those games, too.

And through it all, about the closest he’s come to publicly acknowledging the obvious injury is when he said on Sunday night that “I don’t think the bye week could come at a better time.”

He does, however, understand that his ability to play through whatever is happening is inspiring for his teammates. It’s a sign of his toughness, his leadership and the sacrifices he’s willing to make for the good of his team.

“I don’t like it being that way. I love to be all good,” Hurts said. “But, as I said, I’d do anything for this city and for my teammates. It takes what it takes. And that’s simply put.”

His teammates know better, though. Whatever Hurts is fighting through this season, there’s nothing simple about it.

“That guy,” said left tackle Jordan Mailata, “is a f—ing machine.”

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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