Tom Brady and Julian Edelman will not be the only star players that will be missing when the New England Patriots start the NFL regular season. According to CBS Sports, Rob Ninkovich has torn his triceps. After leaving practice early, the belief is that the versatile defender will be missing several weeks of action.
As most NFL fans already know, Tom Brady will not be around for the first four weeks of the regular season. The superstar quarterback decided to stop his battle against Deflategate allegations. While the absence of Brady will be felt, the New England Patriots are confident that Jimmy Garoppolo can keep the ship afloat for a month.
Julian Edelman was forced to leave a joint practice early with the New Orleans Saints because of an injury to his lower leg, as reported by NBC Sports. Losing him would hurt the New England Patriots because he does so many of the little things to make the offense that much harder to defend.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 9, 2016
Losing Rob Ninkovich will affect the New England Patriots defense because he makes a big impact on that side of the ball. Since Ninkovich can play both linebacker and defensive end, head coach Bill Belichick has the luxury of coming up with several tricks to confuse opposing quarterbacks.
Bill Belichick is one of those rare coaches that like to use both a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive front on a regular basis. In order to make that happen, Belichick needs someone like Rob Ninkovich on the field. Opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen usually cannot tell what position Ninkovich is playing on any given down.
Fortunately for the New England Patriots, the defensive line is one of their deepest units on the roster. The team even went out and signed former Los Angeles Rams defensive end Chris Long for added depth behind Rob Ninkovich.
Though not as deep as the defensive line, the New England Patriots have a pretty good group of linebackers as well. At 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, Dont’a Hightower is a bruiser of a defender to get past. Jamie Collins has developed into an All Pro player in the NFL. The bad thing about not having Rob Ninkovich is that Bill Belichick cannot move around Hightower and Collins at will.
Durability is one of the greatest traits about Rob Ninkovich. Since 2009, he has played in 102 consecutive games, as reported by Yahoo! Sports. The New England Patriots coaching staff know that Ninkovich will be back on the field as soon as his body allows him to.
Fortunately, the injury was not as severe as initially feared. According to NESN, Rob Ninkovich will not require surgery. Sources are saying that the absence will be weeks as opposed to months.
Some might use this injury to try to criticize Bill Belichick for trading starting defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the year. However, the New England Patriots have long been planning on doing that. The franchise knew that they didn’t want to commit a large allocation of their salary cap to Jones, so they traded him to acquire something instead of losing him for nothing in free agency.
Some could even point out that Bill Belichick was prepared for the loss of Rob Ninkovich. After all, he’s 32 years old and cannot play in the NFL forever. The New England Patriots signed Shea McClellin to a three-year contract worth approximately $9 million back in March. McClellin more than likely will start the regular season.
The New England Patriots were thrown some speed bumps early in the season. If there’s a team that can get through that, it is the one led by Bill Belichick.
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