Ninkovich recalls make-or-break first impression with Patriots in 2009

FOXBORO — It's hard to picture the Patriots without Rob Ninkovich. He's been a staple on the roster since 2009, starting over 100 games in that span, including a stretch from 2011 through 2015 in which he did not miss a start. But his hold on a roster spot in New England wasn't always so firm.  As he announced his retirement at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Ninkovich recalled a time when he felt like he was in the middle of a make-or-break moment. It was 2009. He had just been released by the Saints after trying to make the club as a long-snapper. He had barely played in three years — three games as a rookie with the Saints, five games with the Dolphins — and his early-August trip to Foxboro