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Rob Ninkovich during the 2011 NFL season.
|No. 50 New England Patriots|
|Defensive end / Outside Linebacker|
|Date of birth:February 1, 1984|
|Place of birth: Blue Island, Illinois|
|Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)||Weight: 260 lb (118 kg)|
|NFL Draft: 2006 / Round: 5 / Pick: 135|
|Debuted in 2006 for the New Orleans Saints|
|Roster status: Active|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of 2012|
|Stats at NFL.com|
Rob Ninkovich was born in Blue Island, Illinois to a family of Croatian origin. Following seventh grade, Rob's family relocated to New Lenox, Illinois. He attended Lincoln-Way Central High School in New Lenox where he played defensive end, tight end, and fullback. Rob earned All-State honors for defensive end during his senior year. He also lettered in baseball.
Joliet Junior College
Following high school, Ninkovich spent two years at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois. As a freshman, he recorded 36 tackles and seven sacks as his team won the NJCAA national championship.
During the summer prior to his sophomore year, Ninkovich worked with his father, an ironworker, hanging beams on a Chicago construction site 19 stories high. According to his father, the purpose was to give Rob extra incentive to complete his college education.
As a sophomore at Joliet in 2003, Ninkovich earned third-team NJCAA All-American honors after recording 95 tackles (68 solo), five forced fumbles, four fumble recovering and a school-record 16 sacks.
Ninkovich transferred to Purdue in 2004 and played in all 12 games that season. Despite being a reserve, Ninkovich was tied for the team lead and ranked second in the Big Ten with eight sacks. In an October 2 contest against Notre Dame, Ninkovich recorded two sacks on defense and also caught a goal-line touchdown pass from Kyle Orton. Against Indiana on November 20, he tied a school record with four sacks.
As a senior in 2005, Ninkovich earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after recording 48 tackles, eight sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He recorded four sacks against Indiana for the second straight season, giving him two of the three individual four-sack performances in school history. In a 37–3 victory over Illinois, he caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Curtis Painter. Following the season, he was invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game.
At his Pro Day on March 10, 2006, Ninkovich posted 40-yard dash times of 4.79 and 4.81 seconds.
First stint with Saints
In a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys on August 21, Ninkovich recorded two sacks and two forced fumbles but was also flagged for a costly unnecessary roughness penalty which led to a Cowboys touchdown. He finished the preseason with three sacks.
During the regular season, Ninkovich appeared in three games for the Saints as a reserve defensive end before suffering a knee injury against the Atlanta Falcons on September 25. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve on September 29, finishing the year with four tackles.
During an afternoon practice on July 30, 2007, Ninkovich was carted off the field with a knee injury that caused him to miss the preseason. He was waived by the team prior to the regular season opener.
Ninkovich was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins on September 7, 2007. He appeared in four games for the team that season as a reserve defensive end while being inactive for the other 12 games. Ninkovich finished the season with two tackles, recording one each against the New York Jets (Sept. 23) and New York Giants (Oct. 28).
Ninkovich, who converted to outside linebacker when the Dolphins switched to a 3–4 defense in 2008, tied Dolphins defensive end Randy Starks with a team-high two sacks during the 2008 preseason. He was released by the team on August 31 and re-signed to the practice squad on September 3.
On November 15, 2008, Ninkovich was promoted to the active roster. He played against the Oakland Raiders in a reserve role on November 16 but did not record any tackles. On November 20, he was released to make room for linebacker Erik Walden. Ninkovich was re-signed to the practice squad the following day.
Second stint with Saints
Ninkovich signed off the Dolphins' practice squad by the New Orleans Saints on December 3, 2008. He was released on July 30, 2009 after the Saints signed long snapper Jason Kyle. Ninkovich had previously been considered as a long snapping option for the Saints in the offseason.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots signed Ninkovich on August 2, 2009. He made the Patriots' 53-man roster and recorded his first NFL sack in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos. He received a contract extension through the 2011 season on November 6, 2009. Overall, he played in 15 games for the Patriots in 2009, finishing with 23 tackles and one sack.
Ninkovich returned in 2010, beginning the season as a starter at outside linebacker. In the team's Week 4 game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, Ninkovich recorded his first career interception, and later in the game added another interception and a sack. He finished the season with a career-high 62 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions in 16 games played (10 starts).
During the 2011 NFL season, Ninkovich recorded his first NFL touchdown when he intercepted a pass from New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez and returned it 12 yards for the touchdown. He also had another interception in the 3rd quarter of the same game when Jerod Mayo tipped the ball and Ninkovich caught it. Ninkovich had the best statistical season of his career, recording 74 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown), 1 forced fumble, and 3 recovered fumbles while starting all 16 games regular season games. During the Patriots' 2011–2012 playoff run, Rob recorded 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, and 2 quarterback hits against the Broncos during the Divisional Playoff game. Rob also recorded seven tackles against the Ravens during the second round Conference Championship Game.
During the 2012 offseason, he was moved to defensive end, his previous starting outside linebacker position being filled by rookie Dont'a Hightower. Ninkovich, starting opposite rookie Chandler Jones, led the team with 8 sacks and netted 58 tackles. He also forced 5 fumbles, including 2 in a game against the Denver Broncos and a game-ending overtime strip sack against the Jets.
On February 5, 2012, Rob played in Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianaoplis, IN. Rob recorded 4 tackles (3 solo), 0.5 sacks, and 2 quarterback hits.
- "Rob Ninkovich: Iron, man". Boston Herald. http://bostonherald.com/sports/columnists/view/20101017rob_ninkovich_iron_man_patriots_lbs_family_beams_with_pride. Retrieved February 05, 2012.
- "Diehl naslov u Super Bowlu slavio s hrvatskim šalom" (in Croatian). Večernji list. 2012-02-06. http://www.vecernji.hr/sport/ostalo/diehl-naslov-super-bowlu-slavio-hrvatskim-salom-clanak-373938. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "TEAM: Roster Rob Ninkovich Profile". MiamiDolphins.com. http://www.miamidolphins.com/newsite/team/roster/playerBio.asp?docid=29046. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Player Bio: Rob Ninkovich". PurdueSports.com. http://purduesports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/ninkovich_rob00.html. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "KFFL – Rob Ninkovich, DL". KFFL.com. http://www.kffl.com/player/13413/nfl/news. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Rob Ninkovich: Game Logs". NFL. http://www.nfl.com/players/robninkovich/gamelogs?id=NIN311468. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Miami Dolphins 2008 Preseason Statistics". NFL. http://www.nfl.com/teams/statistics?season=2008&team=MIA&seasonType=PRE. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
- "Dolphins Awarded Three Off Waivers; Add Five To Practice Squad; Williams Extended". MiamiDolphins.com. http://www.miamidolphins.com/newsite/news/top_story.asp?contentID=6006&lid=6006. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
- "Miami Dolphins September 2008 transactions". ProFootballWeekly.com. http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW/NFL/AFC/AFC+East/Miami/Transactions/2008/transsept.htm. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
- "Fins place G McChesney on IR". PalmBeachPost.com. http://www.palmbeachpost.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/palmbeach/miamidolphins/entries/2008/11/15/fins_place_g_mcchesney_on_ir.html. Retrieved November 15, 2008.
- Guillot, Gene (June 29, 2009). "New Orleans Saints release veteran long snapper Kevin Houser". The Times-Picayune. http://blog.nola.com/saintsbeat/2009/06/new_orleans_saints_release_vet_2.html. Retrieved June 13, 2010.
- Reiss, Mike (December 12, 2009). "Ninkovich latest to sign extension". ESPNBoston.com. http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4672280/ninkovich-latest-to-sign-extension. Retrieved December 12, 2009.