METAIRIE — The New Orleans Saints’ banged-up offensive line could be in much better shape for Thursday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Saints have used four right tackles in the past four games after a chain of injuries that started when Zach Strief hurt a groin against the Philadelphia Eagles and had to have a surgical procedure for a core muscle injury.
Backup Charles Brown went down with a knee injury two weeks later, and his replacement, rookie Bryce Harris, was lost Sunday with a broken bone in his right leg — which forced them to put in William Robinson, who was signed four days earlier.
Strief practiced on a limited basis last week, but wasn’t ready to go Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Interim coach Joe Vitt said Tuesday that Strief has a chance to play after making significant progress.
“There’s a possibility … it looks good,” Vitt said when asked if Strief could return Thursday. “Our right tackle situation is going to be fine in this game.”
“I have a chance,” said Strief, who was limited again Tuesday. “It feels good. We’ve had all improvements and no setbacks. It just wasn’t quite there Sunday, but it felt good (Tuesday). It’s definitely going in the right direction.”
Not working Tuesday were Brown (knee), DE Junior Galette (ankle), FS Isa Abdul-Quddus (concussion), DT Tom Johnson (back) and WR Courtney Roby (shoulder/ankle). In addition to Strief, TE David Thomas (knee) and CB Corey White (knee) were limited Tuesday, while CB Elbert Mack (concussion) had full participation.
The Saints signed tight end Michael Higgins from their practice squad to help out in case Thomas can’t play or is slowed by his knee injury, and put Harris on injured reserve.
The Saints also signed guard/tackle Ryan Lee to take Higgins’ spot on the practice squad.
Starting cornerbacks Asante Samuel (shoulder) and Dunta Robinson (illness) both missed Tuesday’s practice along with DT Peria Jerry (quadriceps), while T Sam Baker (groin), LB Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) and WR Harry Douglas (ankle) were among those who were limited.
The Saints took their team photo last week with everyone donning the familiar visor suspended coach Sean Payton wears.
“The idea was kind of thrown out there and everybody was game for it, so it’s what we did,” Drew Brees said.