New England Patriots: Rob Ninkovich’s retirement opens door for Kyle Van Noy

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Kyle Van Noy /

With the retirement of Rob Ninkovich, New England Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy will get a chance to be the next man up.

Last season, Kyle Van Noy went from the Detroit Lions to a Super Bowl champion.  This season, he has a chance to play a larger role for the New England Patriots.

The veteran linebacker came into training camp looking to take on more of a pass rusher role.  This was before Rob Ninkovich announced his retirement.

Or was it?

If there was a player who could fit the versatile role Ninkovich leaves behind, it is Van Noy more because of his pass rushing ability.  He also has the ability to drop back in coverage, an area he still needs to improve.


In his limited time with the Patriots last season, he made some impressive big plays.  He also gave up some big plays, but that could be attributed to his lack of familiarity with the defensive scheme.

Entering his first full season with the team, Van Noy now has the opportunity to get more adjusted to the system which should strengthen his production on the field.

"“The understanding of the defense for me, being around the guys more to see how they work, to get on the same page has been huge,” Van Noy said, via the Boston Herald.  “The communication has been huge for me.  I’m just grateful to be part of this organization and play for this defense and for a coach like Matt Patricia.”More from Chowder and Champions3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster DeadlineMLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 SeasonRed Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win"

Filling the edge rusher role

Although Ninkovich leaves some big shoes to fill, it appears the New England Patriots are set on finding a replacement from within.

Along with Kyle Van Noy, players like Shea McClellin, Geneo Grissom and undrafted rookie Harvey Langi will have the opportunity to help fill the void left by Ninkovich.

Due to his history as a pass rusher in college, Van Noy appears to be in prime position.  Not only is he willing to do whatever the team asks, he has an appetite for getting after the quarterback.

"“I always enjoy getting after the quarterback and making plays,” Van Noy said.  “That’s what this game is all about.”"

Will Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and head coach Bill Belichick unleash a player like Van Noy?

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His work ethic and how he takes advantage of the opportunity he is given will determine that.

Van Noy on Ninkovich

When it comes to the kind of player Rob Ninkovich is, Kyle Van Noy lauded the retired edge rusher’s leadership.  He has also embraced what he learned from the veteran linebacker since joining the Patriots.

"“I’ve been blessed to be around him for the three months that I was here and then on to the OTAs,” Van Noy said following Ninkovich’s announcement.  “He passed along a lot of knowledge to me, and I’m very grateful that I got the opportunity to play with such a great player.”"

Next: 2017 Patriots Training Camp Position Battles: Outside Linebacker

Unless one of the other linebackers mentioned above take a major leap, it appears as though Van Noy is the most likely player to get increased playing time.  If the turns that knowledge he gained from Ninkovich into results, he may stick around in New England for a very long time.