It appears that New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief, who has missed the past three games with a groin injury, will be available for Thursday night’s game with the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
Strief, who started the first eight games at right tackle, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday as the Saints wrapped up their preparations for the game. He was listed as questionable by interim coach Joe Vitt.
The Saints made no move to add another tackle to the roster with backups Charles Brown (knee) out and Bryce Harris (ankle) on injured reserve, which would indicate Strief will play.
The only other tackles on the active roster are Jermon Bushrod, the starter on the left side, and William Robinson, who was signed Nov. 21.
“He’s answered the bell in practice and has looked OK,” Vitt said of Strief, “so we’ll wait and see.”
Besides Brown, Vitt ruled four other players out of the game — DE Junior Galette (ankle), DT Tom Johnson (back), S Isa Abdul-Quddus (concussion) and WR Courtney Roby (shoulder/ankle).
Strief, TE David Thomas (knee) and CB Corey White (knee) are questionable, while CB Elbert Mack (concussion) is probable.
The only players listed as questionable by the Falcons are CB Asante Samuel (shoulder) and DT Peria Jerry (quadriceps) after both missed practice again Wednesday.
The Saints will be trying to sweep the season series with the Falcons for the fifth time in the past seven seasons.
The Saints, who took a 31-27 win over the Falcons in their first meeting on Nov. 11 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, won both games in 2006, ’07, ’09 and ’11 under Sean Payton.
In the 14 seasons (1992-2005) before Payton arrived in 2006, the Saints won both games four times — in 1992, ’94, 2000 and ’03.
The Falcons lead the series, 45-41.
While the Saints have played six Thursday games in franchise history, going 3-3 overall, only three have come following a Sunday game.
In those games, they beat the Falcons in 1992 (22-14), lost in overtime to the Chicago Bears in 2008 (27-24) and defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day in 2010 (30-27).
The other three Thursday night games have come in the NFL’s opener to Kickoff Weekend at Indianapolis in 2007, against Minnesota in 2010 and at Green Bay in 2011.
Even though they held a team under 400 total yards for the first time this season when they gave up 375 on Sunday in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Saints are still on pace to set an NFL record for most yards allowed in a season.
They’ve given up 5,003 through 11 games and with five games left are on pace to allow 7,277 yards — which would break the league mark of 6,793 yards by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.
The Saints are giving up an average of 454.8 yards per game.
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