Ninkovich Hit With 4-Game Suspension For Banned Substance
In a shocking turn of events, Friday, New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who had been working his way back from a triceps injury sustained earlier in training camp, was suspended by the league for four games for testing positive for a banned substance.
Ninkovich told ESPN that he was "heartbroken" by the announcement, and added that while the league hadn't announced the suspension yet it was "important to him to share what happened."
The starting defensive end claims that he took a substance that he bought from a store and that the ingredient that caused a failed test was not listed as one of the ingredients in the product.
Ninkovich, who's ability to start the season was already in question due to the triceps injury he suffered in a joint practice with the New Orleans Saints early on in camp, will now miss the team's first four games.
His starting role will likely be filled by veteran Chris Long, who joined the team as a free agent early this summer. Ninkovich's absence will also open the door for second year end Trey Flowers to have an expanded role alongside Long and Jabaal Sheard as the team's top three options off the edge.
Edge linebackers Shea McClellin and Barkevious Mingo, who both joined the team this summer, will also likely see more duty along the edge than in a typical outside linebacker role. Both offer hybrid-type abilities to play on or off the line of scrimmage.
The suspension also opens the door for bubble players Geneo Grissom and Rufus Johnson to now crack the 53-man roster, which is set to be finalized Saturday.