Good News for us Bolt fans. The defensive end was set to return to practice when it was discovered he needed surgery to repair a hernia. By Bob Brookover Inquirer Staff Writer Jerome McDougle was expected to return to the practice field yesterday. Instead, the Eagles' star-crossed defensive end found himself back in an operating room for surgery that ended his 2005 season before it started. McDougle, the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2003, underwent emergency surgery to repair an internal hernia that the team said was caused by adhesions and scar tissue from the surgical procedure he needed in late July after being shot in the stomach. "It's an unfortunate setback for Jerome," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement released by the team. "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 any time soon. We wish him all the best in his recovery from this surgery." Michael Sasso performed the surgery at Kennedy Memorial Hospitals-University Medical Center/ Washington Township in Gloucester County. This surgery is the latest in a long series of unfortunate events for McDougle, who has been on the field for just 19 games since the Eagles made him the 15th overall draft pick out of Miami in 2003. The most serious, of course, was the gunshot wound to his stomach that he suffered July 28 when he was the victim of a robbery in Southwest Miami. Three teens and a man were arrested and charged in the shooting. The gunshot wound deprived McDougle of a chance to be a starting defensive end for the first time in his career. He was first on the depth chart through the Eagles' spring camps at the NovaCare Complex, and his presence was a big reason the team was not all that concerned about watching free agent Derrick Burgess sign with the Oakland Raiders. McDougle, 26, missed four games last season with a sprained knee and another game when he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. As a rookie, he sat out the team's first eight games after suffering multiple injuries to his knee, ankle and hip during a preseason game. Though McDougle has just two career sacks, the Eagles were looking forward to getting him back this season. By all accounts, he was enthused about returning, too. He had expressed that excitement while standing on the University of Miami's sideline at Lincoln Financial Field during the Hurricanes' win over Temple on Saturday. Fixing the defense. Applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks has been a problem for the Eagles in recent games. The team's four-man defensive-end rotation of Jevon Kearse, N.D. Kalu, Juqua Thomas and Trent Cole has a total of just two sacks. Burgess has a team-leading five sacks for the Raiders. "It's very frustrating," Kearse said. "There's been a whole lot of maximum-protecting against us, but there are other things we have to do better. I think we have nine less sacks this year than we did last year at this time." Kearse apparently spent the bye week brushing up on his Eagles statistics. They had a league-leading 20 sacks after five games last season and they have just 11 (tied for 18th in the NFL) after five this season. The Eagles were held without a sack for the first time this season in their lopsided 33-10 loss to Dallas. "We've got to get back to putting pressure on the other side of the ball," Eagles safety Brian Dawkins said. The defense will get some help Sunday when the Eagles return to the field against the San Diego Chargers. Defensive tackle Darwin Walker, who has missed the last three games with a deep thigh bruise, returned to practice yesterday. Afterward, equipment manager John Hatfield took measurements in order to design a protective pad for Walker's injured right thigh. Walker was off to a great start this season, registering 21/2 sacks in the first two games before suffering the freak thigh injury in a Friday practice before the Eagles' victory over Oakland. While it has been popular to lament the loss of Corey Simon, who was allowed to sign with unbeaten Indianapolis after the Eagles removed his franchise tag, it probably would not have been such a big issue if Walker had not been injured. "It's real important to get him back," veteran defensive tackle Hollis Thomas said of Walker. "We lost [Paul Grasmanis to injury], and we've been relying on a couple of young pups [rookies Mike Patterson and Keyonta Marshall] and Truck Driver [Sam Rayburn]. Nothing against the younger guys, but they don't have the experience we older guys possess. This gives us our real rotation back." Walker and Thomas opened the season as the starting defensive tackles and were backed up by Patterson and Rayburn. Patterson had been starting and playing quite a bit in Walker's absence. Though Walker refused to say for sure that he would return to the lineup against the Chargers, it's a safe bet that he's planning on it. "It's been taxing on me, having to watch," Walker said. "Hopefully, I won't have to watch any longer. It's tough because when you're on the outside looking in, you think every bad play, you could have made. That's not realistic. It hurts when your team is losing. The only thing I can do is to try to have the mind-set that whenever I get back, I'm going to try to be a difference-maker."