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Saints place Brodrick Bunkley on IR; no other changes to injury report

The New Orleans Saints officially placed nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley on injured reserve Thursday with the quadriceps injury he suffered last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Saints promoted undrafted rookie defensive tackle Lawrence Virgil from their practice squad to fill the vacant roster spot. Virgil (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) signed with the Saints right after the draft out of Valdosta State, and has been on their practice squad all season. Most likely, though, he will remain behind more experienced backups John Jenkins and Brandon Deaderick on the depth chart.

As I wrote Wednesday, Jenkins will play an important role for a Saints' defense that has started to struggle mightily against the run.

The Saints replaced Virgil on the practice squad with another undrafted rookie defensive tackle -- Garrison Smith from Georgia.

Bunkley, 31, has been solid as a run defender for the Saints over the past three seasons. But he has been more of a part-time player in that role, and he never lived up to the lofty expectations after he signed a five-year deal in 2012 worth between $22.5 million and $25 million.

Bunkley has just 53 tackles and 2.5 sacks in three seasons with New Orleans. He took a $2.85 million pay cut to stay with the team this season. The Saints will have to make another decision next season to either release him or work out another pay cut since he is due another $4.5 million in salary and bonuses in each of the next two seasons.

The former first-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles has had an up-an-down career. His best season came with the Denver Broncos in 2011.

There were no other changes to the Saints’ injury report Thursday:

Running back Khiry Robinson (forearm) and linebacker Kyle Knox (hand) did not participate in team drills.

Cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee), linebacker Curtis Lofton (ankle), guard Ben Grubbs (neck) and center Jonathan Goodwin (toe) were limited in team drills.

Receiver Robert Meachem and running backs Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Travaris Cadet practiced fully.