The boys, according to police, were between the ages of 15 and 17 and escaped on foot, but not before one of them fired twice into McDougle's car.
McDougle, 26, was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital and initially was listed in critical condition before undergoing surgery.
By the time Eagles coach Andy Reid arrived in the media tent that overlooks the practice fields at Lehigh University, the outlook seemed considerably brighter for McDougle.
By midday, the defensive end's condition had been upgraded and Reid gave a guarded but optimistic statement about McDougle.
"He is in stable condition and seems to be doing well," Reid said. "[The bullet] didn't hit any major organs in the abdominal area, and that was a plus. The indication we have now is that he will be able to come back and play, but I'll feel more comfortable saying that after our doctors talk to their doctors."
While still at home in the Philadelphia suburbs, Reid received an early-morning wake-up call from agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents McDougle.
"Obviously your first reaction is you want to get as much information as you can," Reid said. "I was glad, No. 1, that he was alive and doing well. It is a spooky thing. You don't ever want to see anybody get shot, particularly somebody who is close to you. I'm very glad that he is doing well."
"My impression is that the family is holding up well," Rosenhaus told the Miami Herald. "In talking to the doctors, he's doing quite well."
Rosenhaus said he believes McDougle will recover and be able to play this season.
Reid said he had not yet spoken to McDougle.
"I've left him a couple of messages," he said. "He was resting and doing OK. I will talk to him in the next day or so."
Eagles president Joe Banner said he received the news from Reid.
"We haven't actually talked to Jerome, but we've been in touch with people who have been in his room all day," Banner said. "It was just totally stunning to hear that somebody you know has been shot, especially somebody so young and vibrant who has been working so hard."
McDougle, who grew up in South Florida and played his final two years of college football at the University of Miami, was the Eagles' No. 1 draft pick in 2003. After two injury-filled seasons in which he missed 13 games, he was hoping to finally break into the starting lineup at right defensive end this season.
He is listed first on the team's depth chart at that position and impressed Reid with his work ethic this off-season.
"He spent a lot of time up here this summer and really was in great shape," Reid said. "I'm looking at it from an optimistic standpoint that he'll be ready to go and he'll recover here fully and be ready to play football."
McDougle was not expected to arrive at Lehigh until Monday afternoon with the majority of Eagles veterans. Quarterback Koy Detmer was one of the few veterans who reported with the rookies yesterday, and he was predictably stunned.
"God, it's crazy," Detmer said. "It's sad and it's crazy. You never know what's going to happen. Hopefully he's all right and he'll come back here and have a big year."
McDougle's brother Stockar is an offensive tackle with the Miami Dolphins. The two went up against each other last season when the Eagles played the Lions at Ford Field in Detroit. Stockar, who signed with Miami as a free agent after last season, was excused from the Dolphins' practice in Davie, Fla., yesterday and joined his brother at the hospital.
Dolphins guard Vernon Carey, one of Jerome McDougle's college teammates at Miami, said McDougle had visited his brother at the team's practice earlier this week.
"He's a great friend," Carey said. "I was just talking to him two days ago because he was at practice to see his brother. We were talking about college. It was just so tragic to see that happen."
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover
at 215-854-2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.