Versatility pays off
Ninkovich has earned his keep
FOXBOROUGH - Rob Ninkovich has proven to be a very versatile player during his two seasons with the Patriots and this week the club rewarded the linebacker with a two-year contract extension.
According to a league source, the deal includes a $2 million signing bonus for Ninkovich, who was in the last year of his contract.
Ninkovich signed with New England in 2009 after battling injuries and trying to stick with other teams as a long snapper. But the Patriots had bigger plans.
“Rob has done a good job for us,’’ coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s done a lot of different things - kicking game, defensively, running game, passing game, pass rush, he’s had some interceptions, had some quarterback pressures. He’s a smart guy, works hard [and] has good versatility.’’
Ninkovich started 10 of 16 games last season, registering 62 tackles, including four sacks. He started the season opener against Miami at outside linebacker.
“When we got him here, it was right at the beginning of training camp. He wasn’t in any of the offseason stuff, we had a little issue at linebacker, we were a little short there,’’ said Belichick. “He was not with a team, so we brought him up, he had a good camp, played [with] the team and just kept getting better.’’
Injury updates Center Dan Koppen (fibula) and defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion) were ruled out for tomorrow’s game against the Chargers.
Linebacker Gary Guyton (hamstring), receiver Taylor Price (hamstring), and offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer (back) and Ryan Wendell (calf) were limited at practice yesterday and are questionable.
Safety Josh Barrett (thumb), cornerback Leigh Bodden (back), linebacker Dane Fletcher (thumb), tight end Dan Gronkowski (hamstring), and linebacker Jerod Mayo (thigh) are all probable.
For the Chargers, defensive end Luis Castillo (tibia) and linebacker Jonas Mouton (shoulder) are out. Wide receivers Vincent Brown (hamstring) and Patrick Crayton (ankle) are probable.
Chung fined Safety Patrick Chung was fined $7,500 by the league for unnecessary roughness against Miami. Chung grabbed the back of running back Reggie Bush’s helmet after a 7-yard gain. He was penalized 15 yards on the play . . . The Patriots made a couple of adjustments to their practice squad yesterday, bringing back offensive lineman Nick McDonald, who was released Thursday, and releasing wide receiver Kerry Taylor. McDonald was released originally to make room for offensive lineman Thomas Welch. Teams can carry a maximum of eight players on the practice squad . . . Wide receiver Deion Branch consistently said he wasn’t concerned about having zero catches in the preseason. Branch had seven catches for 93 yards in the win over Miami. So, was he really not concerned? “I told y’all it was cool,’’ Branch said. “We’re good. We won the game. We’re just looking forward to this weekend. Hopefully, we can put out the same performance.’’
Reversing course Jets receiver Derrick Mason had a change of heart after watching an exchange with Belichick that was included in the first part of “A Football Life: Bill Belichick’’ on the NFL Network.
The documentary follows the Patriots coach through the 2009 season. Mason was with the Ravens that year and after a catch, he jogged toward Belichick and said something to irritate the coach, who shouted a few expletives in the receiver’s direction.
Mason is shown laughing as he jogs away, but yesterday Mason seemed to take offense to Belichick’s response.
Mason responded to the clip via Twitter: “Just saw that belichick video thing all u ppl are commenting about. He might As well called me boy! Lol total Disrespect. Had I said that to him, everyone would have been in a uproar! I have to much respect for the game to speck [sic] to a coach in that manner!’’
The Patriots play the Jets Oct. 9.
Buyers beware The Patriots are warning fans of an increase in counterfeit tickets being sold for tomorrow’s home opener. Stacey James, the team’s vice president for media relations, said all the fake tickets brought to the team’s attention so far have been bought on Craigslist. For those looking for tickets, James offers a reminder. “Buyer beware,’’ James said. “Craigslist is not the place you want to be buying your ticket. We say that for all those other secondary-market options, but specifically, Craigslist is where we’ve had problems the last two years now.’’ . . . NFL Network drew big ratings for “A Football Life: Bill Belichick.’’ An average of 657,000 viewed the first part of the series, making it the most-watched documentary in the network’s history, the league said. In Boston, the program was second to the Rays-Red Sox game.
Michael Whitmer and Shalise Manza Young of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.