Rob Ninkovich is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, a source confirmed Friday afternoon. Mike Reiss of ESPN first reported the news of the defensive end's pending punishment and spoke to Ninkovich.
"Few things are more important to me than my name and reputation. This might call that into question for some, which has me heartbroken," Ninkovich told Reiss.. "I don't want to cut any corners. I want to do things the right way, with high integrity, and that's what I have always wanted to stand for."
Ninkovich told Reiss he wanted to be candid about the reason for the suspension.
His explanation: "Any supplement I've ever used was bought at a store. I was unaware something I bought had a substance in it that would give me a positive test because it wasn't listed [as an ingredient]," he said.
"One thing I have learned is that if a supplement is not NSF certified there are no regulations that ensure that what is on the label is 100 percent accurate. That is a hard lesson for me to learn at this stage in my career, but I take responsibility for it. It's a mistake I made and it hurts that I won't be there for my teammates."
Ninkovich hasn't yet revealed what the supplement was that caused the positive test.
The 32-year-old has been dealing with a torn triceps for a few weeks and hasn't been on the field for preseason games. Even though he's hurt, his suspension will still "toll" if he's not put on any kind of reserve list by the team.
The Patriots defensive end rotation has taken its lumps this summer. Jabaal Sheard is reportedly dealing with an MCL and will likely be touch-and-go for the opener against Arizona in nine days. The healthy guys are veteran Chris Long, second-year players Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom. Free agent pickup Shea McClellin and second-year player Rufus Johnson are also in the mix.