METAIRIE, La. -- For the second time in two days Wednesday, the New Orleans Saints placed a starter on injured reserve. This time it was rookie linebacker Alex Anzalone, with a shoulder injury, after veteran right tackle Zach Strief went on IR Tuesday.
It's unclear if Anzalone has a chance to return this season after he sits out the minimum eight weeks. Either way, it's a disappointing development for the promising rookie, who earned a starting job at weakside linebacker as a third-round draft pick out of Florida.
Anzalone had 16 tackles, 1 sack and 1 pass defense before he left the Saints' Week 4 win over the Miami Dolphins on the opening drive.
The good news for New Orleans is that it has a proven backup in veteran Craig Robertson, who started 15 games for the Saints (primary at middle linebacker) last year and started 37 games in four years for the Cleveland Browns before that.
But still, this is obviously another hurdle for a young Saints defense that was starting to turn things around before the Week 5 bye.
Anzalone was one of three rookie starters on the Saints' defense, which ranked 32nd in the NFL through two weeks before making a stunning turnaround with wins of 34-13 at Carolina and 20-0 vs. Miami in London.
Anzalone (6-foot-3, 241 pounds) also battled shoulder injuries early in his Florida career. And he suffered a broken forearm last year. As a result, he played in just 31 games in four years -- a reason why he slipped to the third round of the draft. It's unclear if his latest injury is a recurrence of past issues.
The Saints have filled four vacant roster spots over the past two days by re-signing defensive tackle John Hughes and fullback Zach Line and adding guard John Greco and linebacker Gabe Martin.