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Thursday, October 10, 2013
Saints injuries: OT Harris ready if needed

By Mike Triplett

METAIRIE, La. -- There were no changes to the New Orleans Saints' injury report Thursday, with four players still held out of team drills -- offensive tackle Zach Strief (ankle), receiver Lance Moore (hand), safety Roman Harper (knee) and defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker (knee). Although the Saints don't offer specific details on injuries, those four players are looking like long shots to play Sunday at the New England Patriots since they haven't practiced yet this week.

Strief, the Saints' starting right tackle, is the only new member on that list this week, and his absence would leave a sizable question mark on the end of the line. If Strief can't play, second-year pro Bryce Harris is in line to replace him.

Harris (6-foot-6, 300 pounds) is unproven after making just one start in his career -- last season, before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. But he has come back strong from that injury, and he has played in all five games this year as the sixth lineman/tight end in jumbo packages.

"That's my job as a backup: Be always ready. I've been ready for the first five weeks, and I'm gonna be ready for Week 6," said Harris, who said it's helpful that he's taken the snaps with the first string in practice this week to help prepare him if necessary.

Harris is grateful to be in this position after last year. He suffered a nasty injury during his first career start against the San Francisco 49ers -- breaking his ankle/fibula to the point where his foot was "just dangling there."

He was cleared to return to practice just one week before OTAs this spring and said he didn't really get into his groove until a week into training camp.

"In this business there's never a certainty, especially coming off an injury like that," Harris said. "You've got to come back and (I had to) prove myself after a pretty significant injury. So I think I'm doing OK."

Harris said he dealt with the setback, though.

"As Forrest Gump would say, ‘Something' happens," Harris said. "That's kind of a life philosophy I live by."

The same five players were limited for the Saints on Thursday -- running back Mark Ingram (toe), cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee), safety Malcolm Jenkins (neck), defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (calf) and linebacker Ramon Humber (leg).

It's unclear if Ingram is far enough along in his recovery from the toe injury to return to the lineup Sunday after missing the past three games. The Saints have a bye coming up in Week 7, which will give all their ailing players more time to recover.