BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots held their first practice of training camp on Thursday, and there was one notable absence from the session.
Veteran linebacker Rob Ninkovich was not spotted as the rest of the team took the field behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday, raising speculation that the 33-year-old is either injured or potentially retiring.
Ninkovich missed Thursday’s practice for “personal reasons” according to multiple reports.
This season would be Ninkovich’s 11th in the NFL and ninth with the Patriots. He played in 12 games in 2016 and finished the year with 32 combined tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble.
Ninkovich, who quickly became a fan favorite for his workmanlike attitude, played in all 16 regular season games in his previous six seasons in New England. He is heading into the final year of his contract, which carries a $2.45 million cap hit for the 2017 season.
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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did not offer up any roster updates at his press conference before practice, instead poking some fun at social media.
In addition to Ninkovich, defensive end Kony Ealy and long-snapper Joe Cardona were also missing. Cardona is fulfilling his Naval duties and will be in camp within the next few days.