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