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WhoDat!656 10-12-2013 03:35 PM

Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
METAIRIE, La. -- Fortunately for the New Orleans Saints, they don’t have too many stories of “guys that got away.” But New England Patriots pass-rusher Rob Ninkovich is at the top of that short list.

The Saints drafted Ninkovich in the fifth round in 2006. But they actually cut him twice -- in both 2007 and 2009 -- before he finally found his place in the NFL with New England.

It certainly didn’t help that Ninkovich suffered knee injuries in both the ’06 and ’07 preseasons. But the Saints also simply never found a role they envisioned Ninkovich playing in their defense. The Saints were running a 4-3 scheme at the time, and the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Ninkovich seemed more suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4.

Saints coach Sean Payton regrettably recalled this week that he actually tried to get Ninkovich to switch full-time to long snapper to earn a spot on the roster.

“So it tells you how much I know,” Payton said.

“One of the things that keeps you up at night during training camp is making the proper decisions and not allowing a good player to leave the building,” Payton expanded. “We have been fortunate now in year eight [since Payton arrived in 2006] that we are not talking about a litany of players. But he is a good example of someone that we drafted and yet I don’t know if we had a real good vision of what we wanted to do with him. And then it only gets worse because he’s back in the building a few years later and we have a second go at it, and we don’t capitalize on that.

“First off, he’s an extremely motivated player, hardworking, smart. He has all of those qualities that we look for. And those are the types of things that keep you up at night as a coach is having a good football player like that right under your wing twice and not being able to take advantage of it.”

One other player that fits that description is All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach, who was briefly with the Saints as an injury replacement in 2006 before he went on to star with the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens.

Ninkovich, meanwhile, said he has no ill feelings toward the Saints or Payton -- especially since things ultimately worked out so well for him. He’s in his fourth year as a starter with the Patriots, where he has racked up 20.5 sacks in five seasons.

He’s also glad for his layover in New Orleans because that’s where he met his wife, Paige.

“At the time when you’re a young guy, you don’t realize necessarily how things work. So now looking back on it, it’s been a blessing for everything to kind of happen the way it did and give me the chance to come here and play and make a name for myself,” Ninkovich said. “It goes back to when I was a rookie, getting hurt didn’t help me. It set me back, and with the NFL being a business like it is, they’re just trying to get the best guys on the field that they can.

“It was a great learning experience for me, not only just in general but in life. It was a life lesson to pursue your goals and go after things that you want. It just kept me motivated, really, and to stay hungry for my long-term goals and playing in the NFL.”

Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away - New Orleans Saints Blog - ESPN

Danno 10-12-2013 04:12 PM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
Quote:

It certainly didn’t help that Ninkovich suffered knee injuries in both the ’06 and ’07 preseasons. But the Saints also simply never found a role they envisioned Ninkovich playing in their defense.

The Saints were running a 4-3 scheme at the time, and the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Ninkovich seemed more suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4.
This pretty much explains that we didn't "let him get away".

homerj07 10-12-2013 05:35 PM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
Multiple knee injuries is normally a reason not to make the team.

Budsdrinker 10-12-2013 06:44 PM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
Curious to see how he plays the rest of th
e season without big Wilfork at NT

neugey 10-12-2013 07:44 PM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
A small part of me is still trying to get over losing Wesley Walls.

WhoDat!656 10-12-2013 07:52 PM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by neugey (Post 537496)
A small part of me is still trying to get over losing Wesley Walls.

He seemed to play his best against the Saints

Jack Vegas 10-12-2013 10:25 PM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
He was a player, even at DE in the 4-3. It's not like they just overlooked him, either. He did make the roster as a rookie before he got hurt the first time.

UK_WhoDat 10-13-2013 10:29 AM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
It is what it is
Quote:

If the Patriots didn’t select left tackle Nate Solder in the first round of the 2011 draft (17th overall), I believe the player they would have taken is defensive lineman Cameron Jordan, who will be on the opposite sideline today. Bill Belichick described the 6-foot-4, 287-pound Jordan this week as a disruptive matchup problem and, reflecting on him as a prospect in the 2011 draft, “a little bit of an in-between type of guy” with versatility who teams would “have to fit into the different roles depending on the situation or the scheme that you were in.” Because it wasn’t a clear-cut fit, as compared to a left tackle with off-the-charts intangibles, I think that was a significant part of the consideration in leaning toward Solder, whom the Patriots are obviously happy with at this point. ,,,,

Crusader 10-13-2013 11:08 AM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
Well he just wasn't gonna pan out for us so I'm happy he got everything together somewhere else.

Barry from MS 10-13-2013 11:37 AM

Re: Rob Ninkovich one that Saints let get away
 
I really liked Niko when he was here (and still do). Payton summed it up by talking about Niko's smarts and motivation. I'm glad it worked out for him, as his injuries with us were just unfortunate timing in respect to the roster cuts and the defensive schemes at that time.

I am glad Niko has found his role on a really good defense in this league. Dude could have gave it up a long time ago with all the injuries, but it just shows how much resilience and will this guy has to play at a high level in this league. Good on you, Niko...he is one of the league's Good Guys for which I have a high level of respect. But if he could bust a few assignments and miss a few tackles today, we would be most gracious.


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