FOXBORO -- The Patriots aren't strangers to surprising roster moves during training camp. Releases. Trades. Those sorts of things. But oftentimes those moves are team decisions.
This time there's a player choosing to go out on his terms.
Rob Ninkovich is expected to announce that he is retiring from football after 11 years in the NFL, including eight with the Patriots, according to multiple reports. The 33-year-old has won two Super Bowls during his time in New England and racked up 46 career sacks under Bill Belichick.
The team is scheduled to hold a press conference at Gillette Stadium at 12:15 pm on Sunday. The assumption is that will be when Ninkovich makes his announcement.
Ninkovich has been one of many underdog stories to come through Gillette Stadium and find long-term success, though his history of ups, downs and nearly-outs in the league are unique. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Saints in 2006 suffered a season-ending knee injury and was waived in 2007. He spent time with the Dolphins in 2007 and 2008 -- both on the roster and the practice squad -- made his way back to the Saints late in the 2008 season, tried some long-snapping, and was released again the following summer.
Ninkovich was picked up by the Patriots in August of 2009, beginning a marriage that would carry him through the rest of his career. Ninkovich was incredibly durable, playing in all but one game during a seven-year span. Between 2011 and 2015, he did not miss a start. He served a four-game suspension to start last season after violating the performance-enhancing drug policy but started 14 of the 15 games in which he played, including postseason contests.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick dubbed Rob Ninkovich "Jet killer" in 2012 after a half-sack, forced-fumble, fumble-recovery performance in 2012, but perhaps the defining play of Ninkovich's time in New England was a sack of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX.
In a third-and-seven situation with 12:55 remaining, Ninkovich looped around teammates Chris Jones and Chandler Jones, found an opening and smothered Wilson as the Seahawks tried to go down the field. That forced a punt with the Patriots down 10 points, and helped spark the Patriots to their dramatic comeback victory.
The play was crucial but has flown under the radar in franchise lore. Not unlike the player who authored it.