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Report: DE Rob Ninkovich lands new contract with Patriots 09.11.16 at 11:12 am ET
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Rob Ninkovich

Rob Ninkovich

The Patriots have signed defensive end Rob Ninkovich to a one-year contract extension through 2017, according to a report from Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

Ninkovich, who is currently serving a four-game suspension after a positive test for a banned substance, will now be playing on a two-year deal worth $4.27 million. Fundamentally, New England lowered his base salary, but added a signing bonus which should basically offset any lost money.

The 32-year-old Ninkovich has been a key part of the Patriots’ defense since shortly after he signed as a free agent in 2009. The 6-foot-3, 251-pound edge defender has 42 sacks in seven years with New England.

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

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Rob Gronkowski, Barkevious Mingo absent, Danny Amendola makes practice debut 09.04.16 at 4:34 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo fires a pass Sunday in practice as rookie Jacoby Brissett (7) looks on. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — As the Patriots took to the upper practice fields Sunday for essentially a walkthrough, there were two notable absences at the start.

Missing were tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Barkevious Mingo. Gronkowski did not play last Thursday at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale and missed the entire preseason slate of games for a fourth straight season.

Mingo made his Patriots debut against the Giants, playing most of the game and impressing with six tackles, five solos and two forced fumbles.

Making his debut at the shorts and shells practice Sunday was Danny Amendola. The wide receiver was activated off PUP, placed on the 53-man active roster and is eligible to start the season.

Tom Brady and Rob Ninkovich were not in attendance, as both began serving their four-game suspensions on Saturday. Neither player is allowed to be around the team during the suspensions.

In addition, there were six other players spotted on the field as the Patriots began building their practice squad. Among those spotted were defensive lineman Geneo Grissom and receiver Devin Lucien.

The Patriots will return to practice on Tuesday after a day off on Monday, getting ready for the Cardinals on Sept. 11 in Arizona.

Read More: Barkevious Mingo, Danny Amendola, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski
Matthew Slater admits ‘there’s room for improvement’ in NFL drug policy after Rob Ninkovich ban at 2:29 pm ET
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Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater

FOXBORO — Tom Brady isn’t the only Patriots veteran who’s going through a painful four-game suspension to start the 2016 season.

Defensive lineman/linebacker Rob Ninkovich was hit with a four-game ban for violating the NFL’s drug policy for performance enhancers.

Ninkovich told ESPN’s Mike Reiss that he was “devastated” by the news, and that the violation was a complete surprise to him.

The issue of a trusted veteran inside an NFL locker room unwittingly getting into trouble with banned substances is not new. But it does bring to light an issue the NFL and the Players Association has been grappling with for years: How to best inform its players of the dangers of using supplements that might seem legal over-the-counter but are banned by the league in the CBA.

Is there something the NFLPA and the league could be doing to better help players, young and veteran alike? Should PED suppliers be held more accountable legally when they prescribe substances to players?

Matthew Slater has unique perspective in this regard. He has served as a team rep for NFLPA issues and he has been a close friend of Ninkovich since the linebacker came to the Patriots in 2009.

“There’s always room for improvement in whatever it is you do in life. There’s room for improvement for us as professionals, even what I do, what [media] does, there’s room for improvement,” Slater said Sunday. “Yes, there’s room for improvement in that area. What that looks like, it’s not for me to say. That’s a little bit above my pay grade. We’ll see what happens moving forward. We want what’s best, obviously, for the shield and that’s very important. But we also want what’s best for our players.

“But at the same time, integrity and doing the things the right way is something that’s important to all of us. So we’ll see.”

Slater said he sympathizes for Ninkovich during this time.

“Rob’s a good friend of mine,” Slater added. “I know him and I talked about that situation. I understand what happened. I understand the situation is what it is. I love Rob. He’s been a great friend to me and my family so support him as best I can. It is unfortunate. But I think that’s all I can really say about that.”

Read More: Matthew Slater, New England Patriots, Rob Ninkovich,
Rob Ninkovich tells ESPN he will serve 4-game ban for testing positive for banned substance 09.02.16 at 2:24 pm ET
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Rob Ninkovich will sit for the first four games of the regular season. (Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich will sit for the first four games of the regular season. (Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich will serve a four-game suspension to start the 2016 regular-season because of a positive test for a banned substance, the defensive end told ESPN on Friday.

Ninkovich, who has carved out an impressive resume in his seven-plus years with the Patriots, said he is “heartbroken,” and he would never knowingly take an illegal substance.

“Few things are more important to me than my name and reputation. This might call that into question for some, which has me heartbroken,” Ninkovich told Mike Reiss of ESPN. “I don’t want to cut any corners. I want to do things the right way, with high integrity, and that’s what I have always wanted to stand for.”

He added: “Few things are more important to me than my name and reputation. This might call that into question for some, which has me heartbroken.”

The 32-year-old Ninkovich, signed as a veteran free agent in 2009, has played in 116 straight games has developed a reputation as one of the most important players on the New England defense.

He struggled with injury this summer, suffering a triceps tear during a joint practice with the Saints on Aug. 9. He had been working out with the team in a limited capacity since the injury, and it was unclear if he was going to be back on the field in time for the start of the regular season.

“My focus is on getting back to 100 percent and being the best teammate and Patriot I can be upon my return,” Ninkovich said.

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

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Rob Ninkovich, Malcolm Mitchell appear to be full participants at Patriots practice 08.30.16 at 4:23 pm ET
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Rob Ninkovich

Rob Ninkovich

FOXBORO — Two player with injuries seem to be trending in the right direction in Rob Ninkovich and Malcolm Mitchell.

The two appeared to be full participants at Patriots practice on Tuesday as they did not go down to the lower fields with most of the other injured players following stretching.

Ninkovich is dealing with a triceps injury, while Mitchell is dealing with an elbow injury.

The players who did depart for the lower fields were offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson and wide receiver Danny Amendola (both on PUP), along with offensive linemen Jonathan Cooper and Shaq Mason.

Players missing the session all together were: Matthew Slater, Dion Lewis, Cre’von LeBlanc, Steven Scheu, Ramon Humber, Shea McClellin, Sebastian Vollmer, Keavon Milton and Nate Solder (likely excused for Jimmy Fund event).

LeBlanc was missing with a hip injury, according to colleague Chris Price via a source. Some of the players missing could be cut as teams needed to cut rosters to 75 players by 4 p.m.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Malcolm Mitchell, Rob Ninkovich,
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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Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.22.16 AM

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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Read More: New England Patriots, Rob Ninkovich,
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
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