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McDougle rejoins Eagles after shooting

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 29, 2005) -- Jerome McDougle wants to carry his son in his arms. He'll worry about sacking quarterbacks when he's back on the field.

McDougle returned to the Philadelphia Eagles one month after he was shot in the stomach by three armed robbers in southwest Miami.

"It makes you kind of wonder and makes you put things in a priority to see what's important. Life is important," McDougle said.

McDougle doesn't know when he'll be ready to play. Eagles coach Andy Reid said Aug. 28 the third-year defensive end could be back for the fifth or sixth game if there aren't any setbacks in his rehab.

McDougle was sitting in his silver Mercedes coupe when the robbers approached him late on July 28. Police said McDougle was shot after the robbers, with their faces covered, demanded that he hand over his property. One of them then shot him in the stomach, and he was robbed of a $20,000 watch that has not been recovered.

McDougle opened the door and tried to get out of his car, but another robber fired two shots, which police said missed him and hit the inside of the door. The robbers then fled on foot.

"Things happened so fast that I didn't think about anything other than living," he said. "I was in survival mode. That's the way you feel. You just want to live. Waking up every day is a blessing to me."

McDougle had surgery and was discharged from the hospital after five nights in a trauma center. He spent the past four weeks with his family, recovering from the physical wounds and mental scars.

"You've got to get past that (mental aspect) first before you even get back healthy with the physical aspect," McDougle said. "Mentally, once you know you're OK and you made it, you have an incident like that and you make it through, the mental part of it is kind of behind you then."

A former first-round pick who was plagued by injuries in his first two years with the Eagles, McDougle was expected to be a starter this season after Derrick Burgess signed a free-agent contract with Oakland.

N.D. Kalu, who missed last season with a knee injury, is filling in as the starter, with veteran Hugh Douglas backing up. In two seasons, McDougle had 18 tackles in 19 games, including two sacks.

"I kind of fought with it at first, but I can't do anything about it," McDougle said. "I was kind of really getting into my groove. I'll get back. I can't worry about that stuff. I'll get back. I just have to work that much harder now to get back from this. It's always going to be something. There are always going to be obstacles testing you."

McDougle isn't working out with weights yet. He's power walking, swimming and doing exercises in the pool.

"Listening to what the doctors say, they want you to kind of do everything real strict," he said. "It's tough not being able to lift your son, and not being able to do the things that you know you should be able to do. So, it really makes you be patient and you kind of have to have some self-control."

AP NEWS
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