New England Patriots kick-off in 50 days: profiling No. 50 Rob Ninkovich


Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday we looked at No. 51 Jerod Mayo, and the day before that it was No. 52 Dane Fletcher. Because today marks 50 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 50, defensive end Rob Ninkovich.

Selected by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Ninkovich has also been a member of the Miami Dolphins. Interestingly, Ninkovich has only missed one game since joining the Patriots in 2009. He’s started every regular season game in the past four seasons.

Over the course of his nine years in the NFL, Ninkovich has amassed 232 tackles, 35.5 sacks, five interceptions, nine forced fumbles, 13 fumbles recovered and two touchdowns. That most recent touchdown came off a fumble return in Week 8 against the Chicago Bears. 2014 also saw Ninkovich record this third consecutive eight-sack season, which was the highest total on the team.

The highlight of Ninkovich’s regular season was his three-sack effort against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6. But he saved his best for last, sacking Russell Wilson and posting six total tackles in Super Bowl XLIX.

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Heading into the 2015 season, there is no reason to believe that Ninkovich won’t record eight sacks for the fourth season in a row. Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard give the Patriots an outstanding trio of defensive ends as the season approaches.

Perhaps the most underrated player on the Patriots’ defense, possibly even the entire roster, Ninkovich has to be viewed as a very important cog in the Pats’ winning machine.

For more reading on Ninkovich, see why Tom E. Curran named him the 21st best player in the Bill Belichick era.

In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 53 Eric Martin, No. 54 Dont’a Hightower, No. 55 Jonathan Freeny, No. 58 Darius Fleming, No. 59 Chris White, No. 60 David Andrews, No. 61 Marcus Cannon, No. 62 Ryan Wendell, No. 63 Tre’ Jackson, No. 64 Chris Barker, No. 65 Jordan Devey, No. 66 Bryan Stork, No. 67 Josh Kline, No. 68 Caylin Hauptmann and No. 69 Shaq Mason.

Be sure to check back on Musket Fire tomorrow morning as we celebrate 49 days until Week 1 by profiling No. 49, long snapper Joe Cardona.

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