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Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich suffers torn triceps

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The Patriots' pass-rushing depth was dealt a blow on Tuesday.

Defensive end Rob Ninkovich tore his triceps in Tuesday's scrimmage versus the Saints, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the injury.

Although the muscle is torn, the tendon is not. That means Ninkovich will rehab the injury rather than undergo surgery, per Rapoport. The hope is that the 11th-year veteran can return at some point in October.

A versatile defensive leader, Ninkovich led the Patriots' front seven in snaps last season, recording 6.5 sacks and a career-high seven pass deflections. He has not only started all 80 regular-season games for New England over the past five seasons, but also boasts the third-longest streak of consecutive games played (102) among NFL defensive ends.

Along with Pro Bowlers J.J. Watt and Calais Campbell, Ninkovich is one of just three players with at least 40 sacks and 350 tackles since 2010, per NFL research.

The Pats were counting on Ninkovich and Jabaal Sheard to hold down starting duties after trading Pro Bowl edge rusher Chandler Jones to the Cardinals in March. Now they will need reclamation project Chris Long and 2015 draft picks Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers to shoulder a heavier load early in the season.

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