UPDATE (1:15 p.m. ET): It’s official: Rob Ninkovich is retiring a New England Patriot.
The Patriots defensive end announced his retirement Sunday during an emotional press conference at Gillette Stadium.
ORIGINAL STORY: After nearly a decade in New England, Rob Ninkovich is calling it quits.
The Patriots defensive end is expected to announce his retirement from the NFL at a news conference Sunday afternoon, sources told the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe and ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss.
The Patriots announced the news conference Saturday but did not disclose its purpose.
Ninkovich was the picture of durability during his eight seasons in New England. With the exception of the four-game suspension he served at the beginning of last season, he missed just one regular-season game, playing in 123 of a possible 124 contests for the Patriots. He started 101 of those, including every game from 2011 to 2015.
During Ninkovich’s tenure, the Patriots reached three Super Bowls, winning two.
The 33-year-old played 11 NFL seasons in all, spending one with the New Orleans Saints and two with the Miami Dolphins before signing with New England during the summer of 2009. His best statistical campaign came in 2013, when he tallied a career-high 91 tackles to go along with eight sacks.
Ninkovich, who was absent from the Patriots’ first three training camp practices this week, was projected as a starter again this season, with most expecting him to line up opposite 2016 breakout star Trey Flowers. The candidates to fill the role now are newcomer Kony Ealy, third-year pro Geneo Grissom and 2017 draft picks Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise.
New England also signed undrafted rookie defensive end Caleb Kidder earlier this week to bolster its depth chart.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images