The Patriots wasted little time in naming their new defensive captains for the rest of the season (barring future injuries, fingers crossed). Shortly after giving back Devin McCourty the C after he lost it prior to this season, the Patriots have decided to promote Rob Ninkovich to the other captain position.
As we know, the Patriots lost nose tackle Vince Wilfork (6th year captain) and linebacker Jerod Mayo (5th year captain) to season ending injuries. With both of them out, the only remaining active captains were quarterback Tom Brady, offensive guard Logan Mankins, and special teams ace Matthew Slater. Bill Belichick and the rest of the team thought they needed to replace the lost leadership.
Devin McCourty was a clear choice, as this marks his 3rd reign as captain.
Rob Ninkovich, however, is a new face and is the perfect choice as he embodies everything the Patriots have wanted in their players.
Nink was drafted in the 5th round of the 2006 by the New Orleans Saints and auditioned as the long snapper, knowing that special teams play is often the best place to latch on to a roster. After getting cut in 2007, he joined up with the Dolphins where he yo-yo'd on their roster before the Saints signed him back in 2008. After the Saints cut him in 2009, the Patriots snatched him up.
Starting in 2009, Ninkovich made an immediate impact on special teams, but did not have any real time on defense. In 2010, he earned starting time and his star has risen from there. His skill set, his production, and his value to the team has increased each season. His versatility, reminiscent of Mike Vrabel has been on full display the last few seasons, as the Patriots have flexed between their historic 3-4 fronts, back to the 4-3 fronts, and everything in between.
At 29 years of age, Ninkovich is the second oldest starter on defense, behind safety Steve Gregory, and it's evident that the younger players look up to him.
Let's hope that Ninkovich and McCourty can lead this defense through the rest of the year.