Rob Ninkovich and Chris Long become fast friends with Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The sport of football can create fast friendships, and New England Patriots defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Chris Long are one close-to-home example of how it can be nice for players when it happens.

Ninkovich, 32, has been with the Patriots since 2009. Long, 31, signed with the team on March 18 after eight seasons with the Rams.

They didn't know each other beforehand, but they've since been spending quality time together.

"When he signed, I reached out to him and said, 'Hey man, welcome.' Since then, we've kind of hit it off. He's a great guy," Ninkovich said Thursday at the team's offseason program. "It's fun when you can learn from other guys, other pros, and he's been doing it a long time as well."

In the past five seasons, Ninkovich has totaled 6.5, 8, 8, 8 and 6.5 sacks, respectively. In the same span, Long has 13, 11.5, 8.5, 1 and 3 sacks as he battled injuries the last two years.

Ninkovich, who is still beaming at becoming a father for the second time (his son was born May 2), said the two have a natural connection based on where they are at this point in their careers, the position they play, and their desire to get after the quarterback. He smiled when describing both of them as "high-motor guys."

"Chris is a great guy," he added. "He's excited to be here and to really jump into the Patriots' way. I know the previous location was tough for him and I just said, 'Hey man, come here, get to work, and start winning football games.'"