It’s time for pure, unadulterated excitement, Patriots fans. New England activated Rob Ninkovich on Saturday in advance of the Patriots-Browns game. He will be set to return to his place at left defensive end after his four-game PED suspension concluded.
While these moves aren’t surprising, they officially mark the return of the iconic quarterback and longtime edge player to the field for the AFC East-leading Pats.
In addition to the suspension, Ninkovich suffered a torn triceps muscle in August. Both Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long have played more than 70 percent of the Patriots’ snaps at defensive end, so Ninkovich might not return to the starter’s role he held immediately, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald estimates. The 32-year-old veteran has started since the 2010 season for the Pats and has been the longest-tenured performer on their defense, starting in all 16 games in each of the past five seasons.
Both Long and Sheard have five quarterback pressures, and the former Browns edge presence leads the Pats with three sacks.
For the record, Brady returns from his four-game Deflategate suspension to stabilize what’s been a chaotic Patriots quarterback position.
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