Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Report Cards

The Eagles had hoped defensive end Jerome McDougle would be returning to the practice field this week. Instead, he wound up in a hospital getting surgery that likely will prevent him from playing this season.

McDougle, the club's '03 first-round pick, missed all of training camp, the preseason and the Eagles' first five regular-season games after getting shot in the abdomen in a robbery attempt in Florida the night before he was supposed to leave for training camp.

He's been on the club's physically unable to perform list while he's been recuperating, and had hoped to return to practice this week with the idea of playing in 2-3 weeks.

But the Eagles announced Monday that McDougle underwent emergency surgery to correct an internal hernia caused by the adhesions and scar tissue from his previous surgery following his gunshot wound in July.

"It's an unfortunate setback for Jerome," coach Andy Reid said. "It's a shame, because he's worked extremely hard over the past several weeks to return to the practice field. After today's events, that obviously won't happen anytime soon. We wish him all the best in his recovery from this surgery."

The Eagles almost certainly will put McDougle on injured reserve and bring in another defensive end. Their two starting ends are Jevon Kearse and N.D. Kalu, with Juqua Thomas and rookie Trent Cole as the backups.

Neither Kalu nor Kearse have played very well in the Eagles' first five games. Each has just one sack.


--The Eagles re-signed defensive end Alonzo Jackson to the practice squad Monday. Jackson was signed off the practice squad last week because of a shortage of healthy bodies at end, and played in the Eagles' 33-10 loss the Dallas Cowboys. He was released after the game. Jackson probably won't be added to the 53-man roster this week unless backup end Trent Cole, who missed the last game with an injured hamstring, can't play.

--The Eagles' defense is allowing an average of 20.2 points per game through the first five games. That's 7.6 points per game more than they allowed in their first five games last season. They've allowed 30-plus points in back-to-back games for the first time since 1997.


--DT Darwin Walker, who has missed the last three games with a thigh injury, is expected to return to the lineup this week against San Diego. Walker is the club's starting right tackle.

--K David Akers appears to still be several weeks away from being able to kick again. Akers is out with a torn hamstring in his right leg.

--DE Jerome McDougle, who was expected to return to practice this week after missing the first five games while recuperating from a gunshot wound, had emergency surgery to correct an internal hernia and likely is lost for the season.

--RB Brian Westbrook may get some touches as a punt returner Sunday against San Diego.

--TE L.J. Smith practiced Monday and appears to have recovered pretty well from his low ankle sprain. He'll play this week against San Diego.



PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Playing with a sports hernia that has severely restricted his mobility and even affected his throwing motion, McNabb has thrown 11 touchdown passes and just 3 interceptions. But he played poorly in both of the team's losses (to Atlanta and Dallas).

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- The Eagles don't have a rushing offense. Through five games, an astounding 72.9 percent of their offensive plays have been pass plays. Running back Brian Westbrook is averaging just 11 carries per game.

PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Eagles have three Pro Bowlers in their secondary, but have given up 7 touchdown passes in the last three games, including three in their last game against Dallas two weeks ago. It was the first time they've allowed three TD passes in a game in 35 regular-season games. While the coverage has been inconsistent, their front four also has provided nothing in the way of a pass rush.

RUN DEFENSE: C-minus -- Three of the Eagles' first five opponents have rushed for more than 140 yards against them. While their tackles have done OK inside, they've been vulnerable on the edges, where ends Jevon Kearse and N.D. Kalu and outside linebackers Dhani Jones and Keith Adams have not played as well as they need to.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The Eagles' coverage units struggled badly in the last two games, giving up a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to the Chiefs' Dante Hall and then several long punt and kickoff returns against the Cowboys in their last game. They also have gotten little production from their return game.

COACHING: C -- Andy Reid made a poor decision when he let injured kicker David Akers play with a hamstring pull. He ended up tearing it and won't be back for several weeks. His obsession with the pass has the Eagles averaging a league-low 17.6 rushing attempts per game.

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