One of the key cogs in the New England Patriots’ defense will be joining Tom Brady in sitting out the first four games. Linebacker Rob Ninkovich tested positive for a banned substance, and will miss the first four contests this season. Despite no official word from the NFL, Ninkovich wanted to speak out on the situation.
“Any supplement I’ve ever used was bought at a store. I was unaware something I bought had a substance in it that would give me a positive test because it wasn’t listed [as an ingredient],” said Ninkovich.
It looks like this mistake will be crucial to Ninkovich and the rest of his teammates. Rob has been a steady contributor for the defense, playing in 116 straight games for the Patriots. The 32-year-old was also the team captain in 2015, where he had 52 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
There is no doubt that Ninkovich’s loss to this team in the first four games will be hard to overcome. They will be missing key pieces now on the offense and defense. Ninkovich is known for his strength when it comes to stopping the run. In the Patriots first four games, they will be facing David Johnson, Lamar Miller and LeSean McCoy. Without one of their best run defenders, the Patriots could be in danger of giving up some big yardage totals.
Ninkovich has always been a player of great character and mental toughness according to coach Bill Belichick, which makes this suspension that much more surprising. The linebacker is a man of his word and will try to get the rest of the league and his teammates to trust him again.
“Few things are more important to me than my name and reputation. This might call that into question for some, which has me heartbroken. I don’t want to cut any corners. I want to do things the right way, with high integrity, and that’s what I have always wanted to stand for,” said Ninkovich.
He will have to earn that reputation back when he is back from his suspension. Expected to take his place is newcomer Chris Long, a major downgrade from the level that Ninkovich provides night in and night out.