BOSTON (CBS) — Rob Ninkovich is barely over a month into his retirement from football, and the former Patriots defensive lineman is already hinting at a return.

Appearing on CSNNE’s Early Edition with Michael Felger and Chris Gasper, Ninkovich was asked whether the Patriots have approached him on coming out of retirement to return to the team. He acknowledged that he physically feels like he could.

“I’m not gonna lie, you think about [how] I could go and I could play and help the team,” said Ninkovich, who explained that he was glad to be able to spend time with his grandfather before he passed away during training camp. The 34-year-old added that he has not had any contact with the Patriots about a possible return.

Asked point-blank if he’s not coming back, Ninkovich replied, “I’m not closing the door. … Just in case, you know, if something happened.”

The “something” Ninkovich alluded to may have already happened with the Patriots, who find themselves thin along the defensive line to start the 2017 season. Since Ninkovich’s retirement, the Patriots have also lost rookie Derek Rivers for the season to a torn ACL and cut Kony Ealy, who signed with the Jets. They combated the attrition on the D-line by trading a fifth-round pick to the Seahawks for fourth-year defensive end Cassius Marsh, who described himself as a “fast learner” who is confident he can quickly get acclimated to Matt Patricia’s defense.


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