Rob Ninkovich was signed by the New England Patriots as a free agent on Aug. 2, 2009 … Originally drafted by New Orleans in the fifth round (135th overall) of the 2006 draft … Released by New Orleans (9/6/07) … Claimed off waivers and awarded to Miami from New Orleans (9/7/07) … Released by Miami (8/31/08) … Signed by Miami to the practice squad (9/3/08) … Signed by Miami to the 53-man roster from the practice squad (11/15/08) … Released by Miami (11/21/08) … Signed by Miami to the practice squad (11/22/08) … Signed by New Orleans to the 53-man roster from the Miami practice squad (12/3/08) … Released by New Orleans (7/30/09).
- Named team captain in 2013 and 2015.
- Named to the USA Today All-Joe Team in 2013.
- Entered the league as a fifth-round pick of New Orleans in 2006 and was waived four times by New Orleans and Miami before landing in New England on Aug. 2, 2009. He spent the 2009 offseason trying to make the New Orleans team as a long snapper. Before coming to the Patriots he had appeared in just eight games over three years.
- Recorded the third-longest fumble return in Patriots history at San Diego (10/24/10), when he returned a Chargers fumble 63 yards to the San Diego 8-yard line.
- Converted from defensive line to linebacker when he entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick of New Orleans in 2006.
- Changed positions for the second time in his professional career, moving from linebacker to defensive end in 2012, before moving back to linebacker in 2016.
- Became the first Patriots player since Andre Tippett (1985-87) to record at least eight sacks in three consecutive seasons, with eight sacks in 2012, eight sacks in 2013 and eight sacks in 2014.
- His 14 fumble recoveries since 2010 are the most in the NFL over that span.
- Was recruited to Purdue to play tight end before moving back to defense.
2016 (12/11, 3/3)
- Played in 12 regular-season games with 11 starts at linebacker and registered 32 tackles, four sacks, two passes defensed and one forced fumble.
- Started all three postseason contests and totaled six tackles, one sack, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery.
- Made his 2016 season debut and recorded one tackle after starting the game at linebacker in the win at Cleveland (10/9). Part of a defensive line that held the Browns offense to just 27 yards rushing after they entered the game leading the league in rushing yards.
- Sacked Russell Wilson vs. Seattle (11/13) and finished with a season-high six tackles.
- Started at linebacker in the win at San Francisco (11/20), registering two tackles to go along with a forced fumble on a second-quarter sack.
- Started at linebacker and recorded one tackle in the win at Denver (12/18) while helping hold the Broncos to three points.
- Sacked quarterback Brock Osweiler for a three yard loss on third down on the game's opening drive in the Divisional Round victory vs. Houston (1/14). Finished with two tackles and a pass defensed in addition to the sack.
- Started at linebacker and had two tackles and recovered a fumble forced by LB Kyle Van Noy that led to a Patriots touchdown in the AFC Championship Game victory vs. Pittsburgh (1/22).
2015 (16/16, 2/2)
- Named defensive co-captain for the second time in 2015.
- Started all 16 games in the regular season for the fifth straight year and registered 51 tackles, 6½ sacks, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
- Started both playoff contests and posted eight tackles.
- Batted down a single-game career high four passes and added two tackles in the win vs. N.Y. Jets (10/25).
- Recorded a season - high tying six tackles and 1½ sacks vs. Buffalo (11/23).
- Recorded a season - high tying six tackles and a sack at Denver (11/29).
2014 (16/16, 3/3)
- Started all 16 regular-season games and tallied 56 tackles, a team-high eight sacks, one interception, two passes defensed, one fumble recovery which he returned for a touchdown and one special teams tackle.
- Became the first Patriots player with three consecutive eight-sack seasons since Andre Tippett (1985-87).
- Played more snaps than any other defensive lineman in the NFL.
- Started all three postseason contests and compiled 15 tackles, one sack and two passes defensed.
- Posted his first career three-sack game in the win at Buffalo (10/12), taking down former college teammate Kyle Orton for a total loss of 19 yards.
- Recovered a fumble that was forced by Zach Moore and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown in the win vs. Chicago (10/26). It was his second career touchdown and he has an NFL-best 13 career opponent fumble recoveries since 2010.
- Intercepted a first-half Peyton Manning pass in Broncos territory in the first half of the win vs. Denver (11/2) and returned it 11 yards. The turnover led to a Patriots touchdown. Also tallied four tackles.
- Started at defensive end at Green Bay (11/30) and handled long snapping duties for the first time in a regular-season game due to an injury to Danny Aiken. Also posted five tackles on defense.
- Started at defensive end and played every defensive snap in the win vs. Miami (12/14), finishing with three tackles, one pass defensed and his team-high eighth sack.
- Started at defensive end and played every snap in the Super Bowl XLIX win vs. Seattle (2/1), finishing with six tackles and a key fourth-quarter sack that forced Seattle to punt.
2013 (16/16, 2/2)
- Named a captain for the first time.
- Named to the USA Today All-Joe Team.
- Started all 16 regular-season games and registered a career-high 93 tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
- Extended consecutive regular-season games played streak to 70.
- Started both postseason contests and made three tackles.
- Started at left defensive end at Buffalo (9/8) and recovered a fumble. The takeaway led to a Patriots touchdown. Also registered eight tackles.
- Recovered a third-quarter fumble that was forced on a sack by Logan Ryan in the third quarter vs. Miami (10/27). Also compiled four tackles and a sack that led to a Chandler Jones blocked field goal.
- Compiled six tackles and his first strip-sack of the season vs. Pittsburgh (11/3) on the Steelers first drive. The fumble was recovered by the Patriots. Left the game in the third quarter with a foot injury and did not return.
- Returned to action and compiled his second career multiple-sack game at Carolina (11/18).
- Posted the first double-digit tackle game of his career with a career-high 11 tackles vs. Denver (11/24).
- Equaled his career high by picking up his eighth sack of the year in the regular-season finale vs. Buffalo (12/29).
2012 (16/16, 2/2)
- Moved from linebacker to defensive end and started all 16 regular-season contests and compiled 61 tackles, a career-high eight sacks, one pass defensed, forced a career-high five fumbles and recovered four others.
- Started both playoff games and accumulated 12 tackles and two sacks, one interception and two passes defensed.
- His four strip-sacks were tied for the second most in a single season in team history. Three were recovered by New England:
- Week 4 at Buffalo (Recovered by BUF)
- Week 5 vs. Denver (Recovered by NE)
- Week 7 vs. N.Y. Jets (Recovered by NE)
- Week 11 vs. Indianapolis (Recovered by NE)
- Started and made five tackles, including a strip sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick for five yards in the win at Buffalo (9/30).
- Became second player in as many weeks, joining Brandon Spikes, and eighth player in team history to force two or more fumbles in a game vs. Denver (10/7). His first forced fumble came on a strip-sack of Peyton Manning in the third quarter that led to a touchdown and the second was late in the game deep in Patriots territory that sealed the win for the Patriots.
- Made six tackles and finished with a ½ sack in the overtime win vs. N.Y. Jets (10/21), including the final play of the game where he and Jermaine Cunningham combined for a sack and Ninkovich forced and recovered a fumble to end the game.
- Compiled a season-high seven tackles and a strip-sack and recovery of Andrew Luck that led to a Patriots touchdown in the win vs. Indianapolis (11/18).
- Had five tackles and his career-high and team leading eighth sack of the season vs. San Francisco (12/16).
- Started at left end in the win vs. Miami (12/30), but left in the second quarter with a hip injury and did not return.
- Compiled four tackles and an interception that the Patriots converted into a touchdown in the AFC Divisional Playoff win vs. Houston (1/13).
- Tallied eight tackles and two sacks in the AFC Championship vs. Baltimore (1/20).
2011 (16/16, 3/3)
- Started all three playoff games and made 16 tackles, 2.0 sacks for 12.5 yards and four quarterback hits.
- Made four tackles including a half-sack for 3.0 yards and two quarterback hits against the N.Y. Giants (2/5).
- Started at linebacker and accumulated a playoff single-game career-high seven tackles against Baltimore (1/22).
- Started and collected five tackles and 1.5 sacks for 9.5 yards. Also forced a fumble on Denver's first drive that led to a Patriots touchdown (1/14).
- Started all 16 games and finished with career highs in tackles (62) and sacks (6.5 for 54 yards). Also scored his first career touchdown on an interception return.
- Assisted on two tackles in win over Bills (1/1).
- Accumulated five tackles including his fifth sack in six games which forced his first career fumble vs. Miami (12/24). Also made one special teams tackle.
- Picked up five tackles including his fourth sack in the last five games for 28 yards against the Broncos (12/18). Also recovered a second-quarter fumble that led to a field goal.
- Made six tackles in the Patriots win over the Redskins (12/11).
- Finished with three tackles and his third straight game with a sack, an eight-yard loss, against the Colts (12/4).
- Finished with three tackles and one sack for a seven yard loss in Philadelphia (11/27).
- Picked up six tackles, two quarterback hits and one sack for a five-yard loss against the Chiefs (11/21).
- Keyed the Patriots defense to a win against the N.Y. Jets (11/13) with five tackles and two second-half interceptions, the latter led to his first career touchdown.
- Collected seven tackles, one quarterback hit and a pass defensed against the N.Y. Giants (11/6). Also recovered a fumble on a muffed Giants punt that led to a Patriots field goal.
- Registered three tackles in Pittsburgh (10/30).
- Made five stops and registered one pass defensed against the Cowboys (10/16).
- Made a season-high six tackles and registered a half sack against the Jets (10/9).
- Started at outside linebacker and finished with six tackles at Oakland (10/2).
- Made his third consecutive start at outside linebacker in Buffalo (9/25) and finished with one tackle.
- Started and made a key fourth-quarter fumble recovery that led to a Patriots touchdown against the Chargers (9/18).
- Recorded one tackle and one quarterback hit in a start against the Dolphins (9/12).
- Finished the season with a career-best 58 total tackles on defense,4.0 sacks, two interceptions, three passes defended, three fumble recoveries and 11 special team tackles. His three fumble recoveries tied for first in the AFC and third in the NFL
- Made two tackles in reserve role against the Jets (12/6).
- Contributed two tackles in a reserve role against the Lions (11/25).
- Made two tackles in a reserve role against the Colts (11/21).
- Credited with three tackles against Pittsburgh (11/14).
- Started at outside linebacker against the Browns and recorded four tackles (11/7).
- Made three tackles and one special teams tackle against the Vikings, including a stop of Visanthe Shiancoe on thirdand- three, forcing a Vikings punt in the third quarter (10/31).
- Returned a Chargers fumble 63 yards to the San Diego 8-yard line, setting up a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski (10/24). The return was the second longest fumble return in Patriots history, second only to Richard Seymour's 68-yard touchdown return (10/3/04). Registered one tackle.
- Registered a career-high nine tackles in his fourth start of the season against Baltimore (10/17).
- Recorded his first two NFL interceptions against Miami (10/4), picking off a QB Chad Henne in the first quarter and again in the second quarter, marking the first twointerception game for a Patriot since Leigh Bodden had three vs. NY. Jets on Nov. 22, 2009. Ninkovich also added his second career sack in the fourth quarter, five tackles and one special teams tackle. Charles Woodson was the only NFL player that had two interceptions and a sack in the same game last season.
- Started his second straight game, recording two tackles against Buffalo (9/26).
- Made his first career start against the Jets, registering five tackles and one special teams tackle (9/19).
- Was credited with his first career fumble recovery when James Sanders stripped RB Cedric Benson in the first quarter of the season opener against the Bengals to give the Patriots a first down on the Bengals 28-yard line (9/12).
2009 (15/0, 1/0)
- Waived by New Orleans late in July and was signed by New England on Aug. 2, 2009.
- Played in a career-high 15 games, while also setting personal bests in tackles (10), passes defensed (2) and special teams tackles (11).
- Was inactive vs. the N.Y. Jets (11/22).
- Saw significant action at outside linebacker at Denver (10/11) and registered his first NFL sack hauling down former Purdue teammate Kyle Orton for a 3-yard loss in the second quarter.
- Tallied a career-high four tackles on defense in the Patriots 59-0 victory vs. Tennessee (10/18).
- Played on special teams in the postseason game vs. Baltimore (1/10).
2008 (1/0 - Miami/New Orleans)
- Began the season on the Miami practice squad.
- Was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. 15 and saw action in a reserve role vs. Oakland (11/16).
- Was waived by Miami on Nov. 20 and re-signed to the Miami practice squad.
- Signed by New Orleans off the Miami practice squad on Dec. 3 and was inactive for the final four games of the season.
2007 (4/0 - Miami)
- Played in four games for Miami in a reserve role.
- Was inactive for 12 contests.
- Finished the year with two special teams tackles.
2006 (3/0 - New Orleans)
- As a rookie with the Saints, played in three games as a reserve and posted two tackles and a pass defensed on defense and two special teams tackles.
- Sustained a knee injury in a week three game vs. Atlanta (9/25) and was placed on injured reserve.
- Was a two-year letterman at Purdue (2004-05) during which time he played in 23 games with five starts.
- Amassed 71 tackles, 16 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery during that time.
- As a senior, was a second-team All-Big Ten selection when he registered 48 tackles, eight sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
- Also caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Curtis Painter in a 37-3 win over Illinois.
- Matched his single-game career high with four sacks against Indiana for the second year in a row.
- Tallied eight sacks as a junior, including two in a 41-16 victory over Notre Dame. Also hauled in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton.
- Transferred to Purdue following a two-year stint at Joliet (Ill.) Junior College (2002-03).
- While there, set the school single-season record for sacks with 16 in 2003.
- Helped Joliet Junior College to the NJCAA National Championship as a freshman in 2002.
- Rob Ninkovich's journey to the Patriots was not easy. He entered the league as a fifth-round pick of New Orleans in 2006 and was waived four times by New Orleans and Miami before landing in New England on Aug. 2, 2009. He spent the 2009 offseason trying to make the New Orleans team as a long snapper. Before coming to the Patriots he had appeared in just eight games over three years.
- Ninkovich had double the reason to celebrate on Feb. 1, 2015. Not only was it his 31st birthday, but the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX the same day. "This is the best birthday gift I could ever imagine," Ninkovich told Sportsnet Canada.
- Robert Michael Ninkovich was born on Feb. 1, 1984, in Blue Island, Ill.
- Attended Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox, Ill., where he played defensive end and tight end.
- Also lettered in baseball.
- Majored in organizational leadership and supervision at Purdue.
- Married to wife, Paige, with two children.
HONORS & AWARDS
- Team Captain
- USA Today All-Joe Team
FORCING THE ISSUE
LB Brandon Spikes forced two fumbles at Buffalo (9/30) and LB Rob Ninkovich forced two fumbles vs. Denver (10/7) to become one of eight Patriots players to record at least two forced fumbles in a single game.
LEAGUE LEADER SINCE 2016
Ninkovich has more opponent fumble recoveries (14) over the last seven seasons (2010-2016) than any other NFL player. Houston's J.J. Watt is second during that span with 13 opponent fumble recoveries.