What does the loss of Rob Ninkovich mean for the Patriots?
Obviously anytime you lose a starting player for any period of time, it's bad news. Especially when talking about a guy as durable as Rob Ninkovich, who hasn't missed a start in the last 5 seasons.
Ninkovich is expected to miss just 4-6 weeks, which allows him to still play a majority of the season.
His edge presence in both the running and passing game is what sets him apart from most defensive ends. His versatility allows Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia to have tons of flexibly in defensive play calling.
Luckily for New England, they still have two bonafide pass rushers in Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long. Ninkovich's injury will also open the door for the trio of young edge rushers in Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom, and Rufus Johnson, along with free agent addition Shea McCellin.
The most intriguing of the three would be Trey Flowers, who really impressed me in the preseason last year- but never saw much of the field because of injuries and depth.
Physically, Flowers can wow you. The 22 year old stands at 6'4, weighs 269lbs and has a wingspan of almost 85 inches- which is perfect for a defensive end in the NFL. Flowers is explosive off the line of srimmage, and tends to use the bull rush approach in getting to the quarterback, much like Jabaal Sheard.
However at the end of the day, there is no under stating the effect Ninkovich's absence will have on the defense, and the team as a whole.
As a player, he has excelled in causing turnovers and coming up with crucial plays at big moments in games. As a captain, he has an irreplaceable presence in the locker room.
The Patriots are extremely fortunate that Ninkovich will not miss too much time, and still be able to play the bulk of the 2016 season.