Starting right tackle Zach Strief is active tonight for the Saints against the Falcons. Strief has missed three games with a groin injury and was limited in the short practice week prior to tonight's Thursday night special, so is he at full speed with a lower abdominal injury?
Falcons defensive end John Abraham (9.0 sacks, four forced fumbles this season) will try to find out the answer to that question soon. Abraham may lead the Falcons in sacks, but he hasn't collected one on Drew Brees since December 2010.
Inactive is Strief's primary backup, Charles Brown (knee injury) and his backup Bryce Harris is on injured reserve with a season-ending broken right leg. Strief's backup will be fourth option William Robinson, who stepped in for Harris last week and played respectably. Robinson, signed eight days ago but with experience on the Saints' practice squad last season, appeared in only his second NFL game in four seasons.
Also inactive is TE David Thomas, backup to Jimmy Graham but active last game with four catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. Thomas suffered a knee injury against the 49ers and was limited in practice.
To fill Thomas' role, the Saints promoted Michael Higgins from their practice squad. Graham and Higgins, the only tight ends available to the Saints tonight, will be used all game long to help out tackles as an extra blocker or by chip-blocking pass rushers on their way out to a pattern.
Also inactive for the Saints are DE Junior Galette (ankle), S Isa Abdul-Quddus (concussion suffered last week), WR Courtney Roby (ankle and shoulder), DT Tom Johnson (back), and LB Scott Shanle (healthy).
Inactive for the Falcons: former Saints practice squadder G Harland Gunn, QB Dominique Davis, WR Tim Toone, S Charles Mitchell, G Phillipkeith Manley, DE Lawrence Sidbury, and starting DT Peria Jerry.