New Orleans pulled this season back from the edge of disaster. After two straight wins, the Saints are back at .500 with a 2-2 record, with the team on its bye week. The team has seen major defensive improvement in just two games but is still waiting for the offense to break out.
One of the issues holding New Orleans back has been injuries to the offensive line. Starting left tackle Terron Armstead hasn’t played this season after having shoulder surgery in the offseason.
However, he could be back on the field after the bye week. Before the Saints played in London, Armstead returned to practice, but his ongoing recovery limited the work that he was able to participate.
Meanwhile, right offensive tackle Zach Strief sprained the MCL in his left knee during the first game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings. He missed games against the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, but returned to the lineup against the Miami Dolphins in London.
During the Saints’ London trip, though, Streif suffered a second knee injury and had the leave the game. New Orleans placed the tackle on injured reserve on Wednesday, Oct. 4, with a chance to return in eight weeks.
That means that New Orleans will have to move offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk to right tackle. The rookie has already started two games at left tackle and two games at right tackle.
Ramczyk has done well with the coaching staff throwing him into the starting lineup early, though the initial plan was to have him sit and learn behind Streif and Armstead. Instead, their injuries have pressed him into action, and he has performed fairly well over the course of four games.
Streif has been a cornerstone of the Saints organization since the team drafted him out of Northwestern University in the seventh round in 2006. He was a part of the spectacular draft class that played a major role in New Orleans’s 2009 Super Bowl victory.
That 2006 draft class also brought in quarterback Drew Brees and was head coach Sean Payton;s first draft after joining the Saints. Strief and Brees are tied for length of time with the team and have seen the ups and downs of the organization over the last decade. The 34-year-old tackle has started 94 games in his 12-year career.
Streif might return the field against the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 26 or the Panthers on Dec. 3 if he is able after eight weeks.