Ninkovich: 'Best opportunity of my life'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Rob Ninkovich joined the Patriots in training camp last season, he was thrust into learning a new system on the fly, weeks behind his competition.

Yet when September rolled around, Ninkovich emerged with the prize dozens did not come away with: a roster spot. Not only did Ninkovich secure this cherished asset, he held onto it for the entire season. Against the Titans in October, Ninkovich reached a career-high with six tackles, adding it to a sack he recorded the week before.

This year, Ninkovich hopes to parlay his experiences from last season into the next step on any NFL player’s journey: a starting job. With the team thin at outside linebacker entering training camp, Ninkovich realizes the time could not be better for him to prove his worth.

“This is the best opportunity of my life,” Ninkovich said. “I’ve got to take it and run with it. It’s all on me.”

During the first full practice of training camp on Thursday morning, Ninkovich appeared to be well on his way to reaching his next goal, seeing reps opposite established veteran Tully Banta-Cain.

“This is the most opportunity with reps I’ve had,” noted Ninkovich, a five-year veteran who has not started a game in the NFL. “I was a little nervous and antsy when camp came because I knew I would have the opportunity.”

“I’m just grateful to be here and doing what I’m doing. I have to make the best of it.”