Things are going from bad to worse for the New Orleans Saints offensive line. They went into their Week 10 game with the Pittsburgh Steelers missing two key starters — center Erik McCoy and left guard Andrus Peat. And then they lost left tackle James Hurst to a concussion in the second half, putting his status in jeopardy for Week 11’s matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.
It means the Saints could hit the field on Sunday without three of their starting five offensive linemen against the Los Angeles Rams defense, anchored by a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Donald. The big-time defensive tackle is a game-wrecker. New Orleans has blocked him well in the past, limiting him to 2 sacks and 8 quarterback hits with 6 tackles for loss in their 4 previous meetings, but that was with significantly better health across the board.
When asked whether he could see one of those three injured starters returning for Week 11’s game, Saints head coach Dennis Allen told Nola.com’s Rod Walker on Monday that, “I don’t know if that’s a possibility right now.”
So that means we should expect Landon Young to start at left tackle, with either Lewis Kidd or Calvin Throckmorton getting the nod at left guard and Josh Andrews filling in again at center. Kidd and Throckmorton rotated in and out of the lineup last week so that could be the move again. It’s possible that rookie left tackle Trevor Penning is activated from injured reserve in time for this game, but he only returned to practice on a limited basis last week and it’s unlikely he’ll be ready to play a full game so soon.
It makes for a dicey situation for whoever starts at quarterback this week, whether Andy Dalton remains the starter or if the Saints pivot to Jameis Winston instead. New Orleans built its offense on the strength of its offensive line through years of careful drafting, developing, and investing through hefty contracts, but the depth they cultivated is about to experience a serious trial by fire. Let’s see if they’re up to the challenge.