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Rob Ninkovich ‘running around’ to try and be ready for his return, whenever that might be 08.22.16 at 10:24 am ET
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Rob Ninkovich speaks to reporters in Foxboro. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Rob Ninkovich is in a tough spot.

But as the pass rushing specialist indicated Sunday, he’s at least got the chance to fight through adversity and get back on the playing field. With Chandler Jones off to Arizona, Ninkovich is the most accomplished best pass-rushing specialist on the roster, totaling 30.5 sacks, including 6.5 last season.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since tearing his triceps on Aug. 9 in a joint practice with the Saints, Ninkovich said he’s getting his practice in as much as the injury would allow.

As a rookie with the Saints in 2006, his season ended after just three regular season games with a knee injury. The next summer, another knee injury wiped out his preseason and he was waived.

He went back and forth between the Saints and Dolphins before the Patriots signed him in 2009. His injury luck has changed with the Patriots. In that first season, he played 15 games. He’s played in every game since 2010 and hasn’t missed a start since 2011.

“It’s really hard,” he said. “I haven’t had to deal with anything like this for a long time. Just trying to work as hard as I can, and just trying to work and do the only thing I know how to do. That’s try to work hard to get back.”

Now, Ninkovich’s job is to get the mental reps in so that when he returns, he’s ready as possible.

“You watch the tape, you watch practice, you watch game film. You do the best you can to try and absorb what’s going on and put yourself out there [mentally]. Again, it’s just something you have to do when you’re in the position I’m in,” Ninkovich said. “When you can’t be on the field, you have to take as many mental reps and situational awareness to put yourself in that position of playing, even though I’m not on the field.

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Mike Petraglia recaps Sunday’s scorcher: Rob Ninkovich returns, Julian Edelman, Tom Brady appreciates Gisele 08.14.16 at 5:35 pm ET
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FOXBORO — A scorching Sunday at Patriots training camp and Tom Brady speaks about Gisele. Rob Ninkovich returns and Julian Edelman was a full go. Mike Petraglia has the details from Foxboro.

Read More: 2016 training camp, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, Rob Ninkovich
Sunday practice report: Rob Ninkovich returns, Jabaal Sheard absent, Julian Edelman full go at 4:31 pm ET
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FOXBORO — With a heat index of 105 degrees at the start on Sunday afternoon, the Patriots took the field in shorts and shells. The air temperature was 97 with a slight breeze to cool off the players.

“Free Tom Brady” chants came from the crowd that endured blistering temperatures in the sun. The crowd appeared to be the smallest of camp so far.

Midway through Sunday’s scorcher, the team took a knee for a five-minute water break.

Sunday also marked the final “solo” practice of camp, as the Bears come to town starting Monday for the first of three days of joint practices and Thursday’s 8 p.m. preseason game at Gillette. Following Wednesday’s practice, camp will close to the public.

The biggest surprise of the day came with the return of defensive end Rob Ninkovich in shorts and shells with his helmet on. After stretching, Ninkovich made his way down to the lower field to get individual work in, along with running back Donald Brown. Ninkovich reportedly suffered a torn triceps muscle in practice last Tuesday but did not injure his triceps tendon, which would have likely ended his season.

While Ninkovich was getting his work in, another edge rusher, Jabaal Sheard was not spotted Sunday on the field.

Chris Hogan was out of his red non-contact jersey.

Julian Edelman returned to full participation, an indication that his left foot tweak of last Tuesday is a distant memory and nothing more than a scare at this point. Edelman even spent time with Cyrus Jones and V’Angelo Bentley, mostly observing them returning punts. He returned a couple himself, eliciting big cheers from the fans.

Belichick spent several minutes before practice speaking with team doctor Mark Price on the sideline. After chatting up Price, Belichick welcomed former special teams coordinator Scott O’Brien to practice. Also welcoming O’Brien back was special teams captain Matthew Slater.

The visit was somewhat ironic as, during his press conference, Belichick called out his punt coverage team as “not very good” in the Thursday win over the Saints.

With David Andrews under center, Tom Brady took the first reps and connected on a pretty 35-yard pass down the left side to Nate Washington. That was followed up by a clean out pattern to Rob Gronkowski. Tyler Gaffney also took first team reps at running back.

Working with a group of primarily second-teamers, Jimmy Garoppolo also found Washington, a go-route of 35 yards down the right sideline, several plays later in 11-on-11s. Two plays later, Garoppolo overthrew Martellus Bennett, who stopped on the deep route, and was intercepted by Jordan Richards. Overall, both quarterbacks looked uneven Sunday, overthrowing several receivers.

While Kyler Kerbyson was not on the field after being released before Sunday’s practice, neither was Nate Ebner. Bill Belichick acknowledged during his press conference before Sunday’s field work that Kerbyson was released to make room for the imminent return of Ebner, the Team USA Rugby star who is making his way back from Rio.

The Patriots and Bears begin their joint practices Monday on the grass fields outside Gillette at 1:30 p.m., which is scheduled to be the start time all three days this week.

Read More: 2016 training camp, Jabaal Sheard, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
IIWII podcast: Mike Petraglia, Ryan Hannable talk Julian Edelman, Rob Ninkovich, Pats offense 08.10.16 at 8:53 am ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable give you complete coverage of Patriots training camp, including the injuries to Julian Edelman and Rob Ninkovich.

Read More: 2016 training camp, Julian Edelman, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
How will Patriots try to replace Rob Ninkovich? 08.09.16 at 8:51 pm ET
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Rob Ninkovich has developed a rep as a durable defender. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich has developed a rep as a durable defender. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — If reports are accurate, Rob Ninkovich will miss roughly the first month of the season. It’ll be an odd sight for Patriots fans, who have grown accustomed to seeing the uber-reliable edge defender over the last few years.

The 6-foot-3, 251-pounder has made 81 straight regular-season starts with New England, second best in the league among all defensive ends. And he’s played in a total of 102 straight regular-season games with the Patriots, third best in the league at his position.

Ask Bill Belichick about what makes Ninkovich a special player, and you’ll get an extended answer.

“First of all, he’s got great physical skills,” Belichick said of Ninkovich, who has 42 career sacks and five interceptions. “He can run, he’s athletic, he’s strong, so he can hang in there against the big guys but is athletic [enough] to play in space. Whether that be in the kicking game or as an off-the-line linebacker; you can drop him into coverage from the line of scrimmage.

“Mentally, he sees the game as well. He can move around, do different things. He doesn’t get bogged down. He has the ability to play in coverage, which means you have to see the game a little bit behind you in pass coverage.”

Belichick compared Ninkovich’s game to those of Mike Vrabel, Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi.

“You have to have an awareness for where receivers are, where people are on the field,” explained Belichick. “Mike was able to do that. Junior was able to do that, although Junior primarily played inside linebacker, but he played on the line quite a bit, rushed quite a bit. Tedy certainly did that over the course of his career, even though the majority of his college career was down and the majority of his pro career was up. But he showed the ability to do both of those things at a very high level.

“You get players that do that. Not everybody can do it, but when you have one that can, it is a big advantage.”

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Report: DE Rob Ninkovich won’t need surgery, but will still be sidelined because of triceps injury at 6:06 pm ET
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Rob Ninkovich

Rob Ninkovich

FOXBORO — Defensive end Rob Ninkovich has torn his triceps muscle but no surgery will be necessary, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

The 6-foot-3, 251-pound Ninkovich was injured during Tuesday’s joint practice with the Saints. Per Rapoport, if rehab goes well, Ninkovich could return by October.

The Purdue product, who has 42 career sacks, has carved out an impressive career with the Patriots since he was signed in 2009 — he has racked up 81 straight regular-season starts with New England, second-best in the league among all defensive ends. And he’s played in a total of 102 straight regular-season games with the Patriots, third best in the league at his position.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Julian Edelman, Rob Ninkovich injuries, Jimmy Garoppolo progress at 1:30 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Julian Edelman and Rob Ninkovich both left practice early Tuesday outside Gillette Stadium with injuries. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price have your update.

Read More: 2016 training camp, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, new orleans saints
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