BOSTON (CBS) — When Rob Ninkovich heard that All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis had signed with New England, the Patriots defensive end’s eyes lit up.
Life just got a little easier for Ninkovich on the defensive line.
“We got the best corner in the league coming in,” Ninkovich told reporters of Revis at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. “That’s always a good thing for a defensive end like myself, just give me a little bit more time and I’ll be happy to use that.”
It’s scary to think what Ninkovich could do with a little bit more time when getting after the quarterback. He’s tallied eight sacks in each of the last two seasons, and racked up a new career-high 91 combined tackles in 2013.
Now, Revis will be lining up behind him ready to shut down the opposition’s passing game. Ninkovich doesn’t know what the Patriots will have the Pro Bowl corner do when next season rolls around, but he knows that Revis can pretty much do anything on the defensive side of the ball.
“You can do whatever you want with him,” said Ninkovich. “You can put him on the best receiver, tight end, whoever, and say, ‘Hey, go cover this guy,’ and he can do it. Whenever you have a guy that talented, it’s always great as far as defensive schemes and stuff like that.”
Though Ninkovich has not had a chance to meet Revis yet, he already met up with the other free agent corner brought in this offseason, Brandon Browner. Ninkovich knew the 6-4 Browner was a big guy, but was taken aback when he saw him in person.
“That guy is bigger than me,” he said. “When I first met him, I didn’t know he was a corner. He’s a big, physical guy. He’s tall and long. He’s another guy who is a piece you can put on the field anywhere to go cover and shut them down. That’s another great addition to have to our secondary.”
With the combo of Revis and Browner (who is suspended the first four games of next season) and their skills in the secondary, Ninkovich can see plenty of more opportunities opening up for him and his fellow pass-rusher Chandler Jones on the defensive line. But don’t think that means the seven-year vet will be taking it easy as he prepares for 2014. He’s already in the weight room, getting a push from linebacker Jerod Mayo.
And with last season’s AFC Championship loss to the Broncos fresh in his mind, Ninkovich enters this season ready to take his game to a new level.
“I’m very motivated. I need to get back to that game and we have to win it this time,” he said. “Nobody thinks about the time and effort it takes to get to a championship game; the workouts, OTAs then the 16 regular season games. It’s a long road and a lot of work to get back there, but I’m up for the challenge.”
“I’m going to have a better year than I did last year,” Ninkovich said confidently. “That’s my goal. Mentally, I always prepare myself to be a better player. Every year you gain confidence and knowledge. When you’re younger you question yourself if you can make a play. Now, I know that I’ve done it, I’ve played in the biggest games. As you grow older you’re more confident in everything.”
“That’s the way I’m wired,” he said. “I like pushing myself; like my dad always said ‘pain is your friend.’ There is nothing wrong pushing yourself and being in a position that tests your limits.”
MORE PATRIOTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON