Rob Ninkovich is set to close the books on his lengthy NFL tenure, according to a report from ESPN's Mike Reiss.
The 33-year-old has been away from camp since it opened for personal reasons, as per head coach Bill Belichick. Ninkovich has also openly discussed retirement in the offseason, and the Patriots have called a press conference for this afternoon.
From Reilly's report:
4. One of the notable stories of Patriots training camp has been the absence of veteran defensive end Rob Ninkovich for what Belichick described as personal reasons. Ninkovich isn't expected to participate in practice Sunday. It would be a surprise if we didn't get more clarity on Ninkovich's situation within the next 24 hours or so, as the 33-year-old has been considering retirement.
5. If Ninkovich does decide to retire, I'd expect the Patriots to give him the same type of first-class send-off as they have for others -- Matt Light, Kevin Faulk, Troy Brown and Doug Flutie are a few who come to mind. Those send-offs are generally reserved for players who suited up for the franchise for an extended period of time, finished their career with the Patriots and represented the organization with class on and off the field. Ninkovich checks off all the boxes. The Patriots have called a 12:15 p.m. ET news conference for Sunday, and perhaps this is the reason why.
Ninkovich was drafted by New Orleans in 2006, though they gave up on him a year later following a knee injury. He spent a cup of coffee with Miami in 2008 and headed back to the Saints, before signing with the Pats during training camp in 2009.
He was notably suspended for the first four weeks of last season after testing positive for a banned substance, snapping an iron-man streak of 116 consecutive games. He still managed four sacks and 32 tackles, though.
In Ninkovich's eight years as a Patriot, he played in 123 games, recording 469 tackles and 46 sacks coupled with six sacks and 60 tackles in 17 playoff games. His 46 sacks are fifth-most in team history, behind Andre Tippett (100), Willie McGinest (78), Chris Slade (51) and Mike Vrabel (48).