Column: Sizing up the competition to replace Ninkovich

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(Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots have practiced seven times since the start of training camp. OK, maybe six-and-a-half, considering the fact that Thursday’s session was basically an off day for many veteran starters with injuries and fatigue becoming a real factor. Five have been real football with full pads.

Throughout our Live Q&A chats here at BSJ, Chris Price and I constantly hear one question over and over again: What are they going to do on the edge of the defense opposite Trey Flowers now that Rob Ninkovich has retired?

There is still a long way to go, and things can (and will) change in football on a daily basis, but we’ve at least been able to discern the players in the mix. Let’s take a look at who they are, their strengths and weaknesses and likelihood of them grabbing the job.