HOUSTON – Jalen Hurts was born in Houston and grew up about 25 miles from NRG Stadium.
Growing up, he dreamed of playing at the home of the Houston Texans. On Thursday, he will finally live that dream as the Philadelphia Eagles (7-0) visit the Texans (1-5-1).
“I never had the opportunity to play here when I was growing up,” he said. I spent a lot of time at the Texans facility because my sponsor was on staff when I was young. I have many good memories of this place. It will be special. »
Texans head coach Lovie Smith knows Hurts will be pumped up for this game, but he has no plans to roll out the red carpet.
“It’s always special when you have the opportunity to play close to home,” Smith said. But we’re not the ones coming home. We don’t want to allow him to have fun. »
Hurts and the Eagles are hoping to improve to 8-0 for the first time in team history. The 24-year-old quarterback helped the Eagles win their last 19 regular season games, the longest active streak of its kind in the NFL.
Last week, Hurts set a career-high four touchdown passes in a 35-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He leads quarterbacks in the National Conference with an average of 300.3 passing yards per game.
Smith noted that it was difficult to contain Hurts due to his ability to stretch play while running with the ball.
“He might be the most improved player on the league this season,” Smith said. There are a lot of quarterbacks who are able to throw the ball well, but there are several dimensions to his game. We’re going to have to be able to keep him in the protective pocket. »
Hurts has thrown 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions this season, after finishing last season with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said he expects such progress from his protege this season.
“I never had any doubts,” he said. To see the way he works, he is excellent. And it is contagious with his teammates. You can feel it on the training ground, in meetings, and then it translates into games. And he’s got consistency, which is what you’re looking for in your quarterback. »
The Eagles are the last undefeated team this season in the NFL. They are also 5-0 against the Texans. The Eagles and Minnesota Vikings are the only teams the Texans have never defeated.