Patriots

Slater on Ninkovich: 'He gave everything he had'

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Slater on Ninkovich: 'He gave everything he had'

FOXBORO -- As one of the longest tenured Patriot players, Rob Ninkovich ended his career Sunday. Another of the “old guys,” Matthew Slater, paused to reflect on the first time he met a man who wasn’t just a longtime teammate, but a friend.

“I always joke with him, 2009, I think we signed him in August {August 2nd}, the middle of camp,” said Slater. “He came in wearing number 45. This guy was running all over the place, making plays and our coaches can’t say his name but they were saying ‘hey, this is a guy, this is the type of effort we need.’ That was Rob. He gave everything he had. To go from a guy wearing number 45 not knowing if he was going to be here, to having contributed for the last eight years, it’s truly remarkable. It speaks to his character, what type of man he is and what type of football player he was.”

Slater was one of many on the team - players, coaches, training staff - who filed into the media workroom and listened to every word spoken by and about Ninkovich. It was a great tribute to the player, but maybe even moreso to the person. Every one in that room lined up to share an embrace with the 33-year old. Every. Single. One.

“As a teammate of his, it’s bittersweet. You’re going to miss a guy like that,” Slater told me after practice. “It’s not only for what he did for us on the football field either. Rob and I have had a tremendous friendship over the years - and that’s going to continue  - but a piece of you is kind of like ‘man, I hate to see him go.’ At the same time, we’re celebrating what he accomplished, what he gave of himself to the organization…he should be very proud of everything he’s accomplished over the last 11 years.”

Kraft: Trump stance on NFL protests 'divisive and horrible'

Kraft: Trump stance on NFL protests 'divisive and horrible'

In an audio recording obtained by the New York Times of the contentious October meeting between NFL owners and players over protests during the national anthem, Patriots owner - and friend of President Trump - Robert Kraft blasted Trump.

“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” the Times quotes Kraft as saying. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie cautioned the players not to be baited by Trump, who earlier in the fall had called NFL players sons of bitches for kneeling during the anthem before games. Lurie called the Trump presidency "disastrous." 

"We've got to be careful not to be baited by Trump or whoever else," Lurie said. 

Many of the players told the owners that ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who initiated the kneeling protest, was being blackballed by the owners.

"We all agree in this room that he should be on a roster," said former Patriots linebacker Chris Long, who recently retired after winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles. 

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Report: QB Lamar Jackson had private workout for McDaniels

Report: QB Lamar Jackson had private workout for McDaniels

The Patriots-picking-Lamar-Jackson rumors Thursday night in the first-round of the draft are bound to heat up in the next 24 hours after a report by Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated's MMQB that the Louisville quarterback had a second workout for the Pats - this one a private session in South Florida for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2016, previously made a visit to Foxboro, where he even got a laugh out of Bill Belichick. 

The Patriots, with picks No. 23 and 31 in the first round, would likely have to trade up to get Jackson, whose mobility is one of his key assets. Our Phil Perry has him going 15th to the Arizona Cardinals in his latest mock draft.

Speaking at the site of the draft in Dallas on Wednesday, Jackson, via NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman, sounded excited at the prospect of New England trading up to get him and he's sticking by his mother as his manager.

Jackson already has kind of an endorsement from Brady via Instagram earlier this month. And click here for our Mike Giardi on Jackson from our "Next Heir Up" series on possible Pats future QBs.

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