Five years ago, Jerome McDougle was the 15th overall selection in the NFL draft. Since then he has appeared in just 33 games for the Eagles, never having started a single one.
His history of injuries and inability to make an impact on the field might contribute to why so many people, including defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and head coach Andy Reid, are intrigued about the positive performance McDougle has had over the last month during training camp and against the Steelers in the preseason opener.
"He's kind of climbed the ladder, and then had a setback," said Andy Reid. "That happens. He's come out and he's played well. He's put all that behind him. He feels good and he seems to be playing productive football. We'll just see how he finishes this thing out."
The six-year veteran out of Miami is pleased just to be back on the field.
"I feel good, just one (game) down," McDougle said. "It's been awhile since I've been out there playing against other people. It's been a good little while for me so it feels good to get back out there."
The 6-2, 264-pound defensive end looks to return this season after a tricep injury, suffered in the 2007 preseason, landed him on the injured reserve list. McDougle missed the entire 2005 season with a gunshot wound he suffered during a robbery attempt on the eve of training camp.
Now that he is in the last year of his contract, there's a lot left to prove for the former first-round draft pick.
"I think this is a big year for Mac and I think he is taking advantage of that," Johnson said. "Victor's down and he (McDougle) is trying to make this football team. He'll play a lot this week again, and just see how he continues to progress. At least I saw a guy that was getting upfield, getting after the passer."
Enduring all his trials and tribulations has allowed McDougle to sympathize and understand what someone like Victor Abiamiri is going through. Abiamiri will likely miss the rest of the preseason.
"Victor is a real good player, a real good guy and you know I kind of feel for him - I have been in that position before," said McDougle
McDougle points to his faith as the guiding light that has brought him to this stage in his career.
"Really just giving all honor to God," he said. "It's not really about me right now. It's just devoting myself to really just doing God's will and football just comes extra. That's something extra for me. I'm trying to live my life as best I can and football, that's just like an extra bonus."
A healthy McDougle would be a "bonus" to the Eagles defense and provide some much needed depth and production from the defensive end position.