BOSTON (CBS) — Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich could miss 4-to-6 weeks after tearing his triceps muscle during Tuesday’s Patriots-Saints joint practice at Gillette Stadium. With Chandler Jones gone to the Arizona Cardinals via trade, Ninkovich’s injury means that the Patriots could start the 2016 season without both of their starting defensive ends from the start of 2015.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones and Rich Keefe revisited the Jones trade on Tuesday night’s program. The move was polarizing, as it came before Chandler Jones’ upcoming contract year and the return for it, a second-round pick and guard Jonathan Cooper, appeared underwhelming.

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Critical of the Patriots’ “mixed results” in the middle of the draft, Adam Jones liked the trade even less once the team traded the 2016 second-rounder for a third and fourth-round pick, which they used to draft offensive lineman Joe Thuney and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell. He does not feel great about the Patriots defensive line as a positional group in the wake of the loss of Chandler Jones and early-season loss of Ninkovich.

“I’m guessing now you have to start Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long to begin the year,” said Jones. “Now what? Shea McClellin? Geneo Grissom? Trey Flowers? That’s your depth at defensive end? It seems like the Chandler Jones trade is pretty regrettable.”

Keefe was “OK” with the trade at the time, but was shocked by how many people were “so on board with it.” He believes a confluence of factors ultimately pushed Jones out the door earlier than expected.

“Not having Chandler Jones here, not re-signing him and spending a lot of money on him, does that allow [the Patriots] to bring back [Dont’a] Hightower, [Jamie] Collins, [Malcolm] Butler?” asked Keefe. “Maybe you just don’t like him a ton as a player, you don’t want to give him top pass rusher money … but still, it’s a contract year for him.

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“Jones will have a better year this year than Thuney, Cooper, and Mitchell combined. That should be a no-brainer.”

Keefe believes the Patriots should load up as much as they can in the final years of the Tom Brady era, but did see a silver lining in Thuney’s possible emergence as a reliable presence on the interior of the offensive line.

“I think it’s too early to say they already lost this trade,” said Keefe. “Plus, if Joe Thuney ends up being a starting offensive lineman for this team, that’s going to look a lot better because that was a position of need.”

Listen to the full podcast below:

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