BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady isn’t the only key Patriot returning from suspension. Rob Ninkovich is also back after serving four games for testing positive for a banned substance but was also recovering from a preseason injury. Now, the Patriots defensive end could be ready to join Brady on the field in Week 5 in Cleveland.

According to a tweet by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Ninkovich is “healthy enough to play” after suffering a partially torn triceps muscle on Aug. 9 in a preseason scrimmage against the New Orleans Saints. Rapoport added that Ninkovich “could play” against the Cleveland Browns, indicating that he’s no guarantee to be active despite his health.

When Ninkovich first suffered the triceps injury, he had an outside shot to return at some point within the Patriots’ first four games of the season. That went out the window when his suspension came down on Sept. 2.

The suspension broke Ninkovich’s streak of 125 consecutive games played, including playoffs, going back to 2009. His consistency and durability will be most welcome on a Patriots defense that has had an up-and-down start to the 2016 season.


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