Ninkovich's new role -- Pats playmaker

Unheralded LB can make an impression, sort of like another once-obscure No. 50

Updated: January 21, 2012, 4:21 AM ET
By Jackie MacMullan | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- As linebacker Rob Ninkovich lined up opposite Pro Bowl offensive tackle Matt Light in a one-on-one training camp drill in August 2009, the personal checklist of goals that accompanied him to the NFL seemed preposterous, quixotic, unrealistic.

Ninkovich was trying to hook on with the New England Patriots knowing he was perilously close to the end of his brief and unfulfilling pro football career.

His arduous path had included a number ...

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