The Saints expect offensive tackle Zach Strief to play on Thursday against the Falcons. (US Presswire)

The Saints placed rookie offensive tackle Bryce Harris on injured reserve on Tuesday and did not sign a tackle to replace him, an indication they expect Zach Strief will play Thursday against the Falcons after missing the previous three games with a groin injury.

Interim coach Joe Vitt said Strief was limited in practice, but the Saints likely would have signed another tackle if they thought Strief would be unavailable to face the Falcons.

The only healthy tackles on the active roster are starting LT Jermon Bushrod and William Robinson, whom the Saints signed last Tuesday. Robinson played the rest of the way against San Francisco on Sunday after Harris broke a bone in his lower right leg during the first half.

The Saints allowed five sacks in the second half and will be in a desperate situation if Strief cannot play. Robinson played in one game with the Redskins in 2009 and did not play again until Sunday, spending time with the Seahawks, the Jaguars and the Saints in 2010 and 2011 without getting on the field.

Quarterback Drew Brees defended Robinson’s performance against San Francisco and praised the offensive line as a whole.

“It’s not five individuals, It’s a unit,” Brees said. “So much of what they do is, it’s communication, it’s togetherness. They’re working together at all times. Just as a unit they all stuck together there.”

The Saints also activated TE Michael Higgins, who had one catch in the regular season and one catch in the playoffs last year. Backup tight end David Thomas was limited in practice with a knee injury.

Injury update: CB Corey White (knee) was limited in practice after missing the previous two games with a knee injury. DE Junior Galette (ankle), DT Tom Johnson (back), OT Charles Brown (knee), safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (concussion) and WR Courtney Roby (shoulder, ankle) did not practice.  CB Elbert Mack (concussion) practiced fully.

Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on Twitter @CBSSaints.