Rob Ninkovich officially is an outsider after announcing his NFL retirement Sunday. But let’s face it: He knows the New England Patriots’ locker room as well as anybody and he’s not worried in the least about Tuesday’s developments.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Stephon Gilmore both were booted from Tuesday’s training camp session after getting into a heated scuffle during a team drill. Considering Gilmore is a newcomer, is his beef with the Patriots’ longest-tenured wide receiver cause for concern?
Ninkovich dropped by ESPN’s “SportsCenter” during his first day of retirement to weigh in on the matter.
“That’s camp,” the ex-Patriots defensive end told host David Lloyd. “You’re in the heat of battle, it’s hot outside, it’s humid, you’re out there competing against somebody you go against constantly. So, there’s always going to be a little bit of back and forth.”
Ninkovich is right: Fights break out in camp virtually every year between star players and backups alike, and they’re rarely signs of any higher-level dissension. The 33-year-old even revealed he threw down in practice one time, getting into it with Patriots offensive lineman Marcus Cannon in one of Cannon’s first seasons with the team.
Of course, Ninkovich wasn’t surprised Edelman was in the thick of this scrap.
“I’ve been really close friends with Julian for many years, and sometimes he’s fiery — actually all the time he’s fiery, not sometimes,” Ninkovich said. “He’s got a lot of fire in him, and plenty of times he can just get heated.”
Ninkovich wasn’t the only former Patriot with a take on the Edelman-Gilmore fight; old friend Lawyer Milloy chimed in with an apparent defense of Edelman.
Football season is here, folks.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images
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