However, right before halftime against the Packers, trainer Rick Burkholder said, Burgess felt "a pop in his chest" as he reached back in an attempt to make a tackle. Examinations yesterday morning revealed the extent of the injury.
"In general, these things take four to six weeks to heal up," Burkholder said.
Only four weeks remain in the regular season. The Eagles will likely have a bye, which could put Burgess back on the field for the Eagles' first playoff game. Coach Andy Reid did not indicate that the team planned to place Burgess on injured reserve.
The injury could also have ramifications beyond this season for Burgess, who will be a free agent after the season. This is the latest in a growing list of serious injuries for the fourth-year defensive end out of Mississippi. After a strong rookie season in 2001, he missed all but one game in 2002 when he fractured his right foot in the season opener at Tennessee, then missed all of last season when he tore his left Achilles tendon just a few days before the season opener.
Thanks to the return of Hugh Douglas before the start of this season as well as Sunday's decision to play Darwin Walker some at defensive end, the Eagles are equipped to deal with the injury to Burgess, who went the last six weeks without recording a sack.
"Hugh will play a lot more at end, and we'll play Walker a little more out there, too," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said.
The Eagles also hope to have second-year defensive end Jerome McDougle back healthy when they play the Washington Redskins on Sunday night at FedEx Field. McDougle has missed the last three games with a sprained knee he suffered in the Eagles' Nov. 15 win at Dallas. Jamaal Green has been playing in place of McDougle.
McDougle and Douglas have been the primary backups at defensive end this season, but they had received little playing time in recent weeks because, according to Johnson, Burgess and Jevon Kearse had been playing exceptionally well.
Johnson and the Eagles would love for McDougle to emerge as more of a force along the defensive line because the team spent the 15th overall pick to draft him in 2003. McDougle has just one career sack and has been hampered by nagging injuries.
"I think it will depend on how McDougle is," Johnson said. "We'll see if he has a chance to play. If not, Hugh and Walker will play a lot more."
Walker had never played defensive end in the NFL before Sunday, but Johnson decided to move the 294-pound defensive tackle outside Sunday to help the Eagles deal with the Packers' run package in which they insert an extra offensive tackle.
It was a move that worked well as the Eagles held the Packers to just 50 yards rushing.
"Darwin is still going to play some tackle, and he'll play some end, too," Johnson said. "I think he's better for us playing the run game on the outside, especially when he's going against a big tight end. He's got the ability to power-rush outside. He doesn't have the quickness, but he can rush the passer."
Douglas, a five-year starter for the Eagles before leaving for Jacksonville as a free agent after the 2002 season, will likely make his first start for the team since the NFC championship loss to Tampa Bay in January 2003. In limited playing time this season, Douglas has registered two sacks and 11 tackles.
"How many snaps can Hugh handle?" Johnson said. "Can he handle 35 to 40 snaps? That's the thing we have to see. He's been getting about 15 to 20. I'm confident. Maybe he'll get 30 snaps this week and 40 snaps the next week. Maybe we have to bring him around that way."
Johnson said Douglas so far has done what the Eagles expected from him. But now they'll expect more.
In other injury news, Reid said linebacker Nate Wayne will likely be out for an extended period after aggravating a hamstring injury Sunday against the Packers.
The Eagles expect to have Artis Hicks (sprained knee) back at one starting guard position, but aren't sure whether Jermane Mayberry is ready to return from a recurring calf injury. If Mayberry can't play, Hicks would likely be inserted at left guard and Steve Sciullo would move to the right side, where Alonzo Ephraim made his first NFL start Sunday.
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eagles at Redskins, 8:30 p.m.
TV: Channel 6, ESPN.
Radio: WYSP-FM (94.1).
Line: Eagles by 9.
* Upon Further Review: A look back at Sunday's victory over Green Bay. E4.
* A Saints player expects to be fined by the NFL after throwing a punch against the Panthers and getting ejected. E5.