Patriots

Ninkovich not bothered by roster battles

591716.jpg

Ninkovich not bothered by roster battles

FOXBORO -- Every NFL roster is packing extra muscle this season. In April, the league upped offseason team membership from 80 to 90 players, increasing competition across the board.

The Patriots have 14 defensive linemen and 13 linebackers right now.

That includes an addition of three draft picks, four rookie or first-year free agents, and four veteran free agents to the front seven. First round picks Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones could be called on immediately for pass rush help.

Great. Don't color Rob Ninkovich worried.

"It really doesn't hurt me at all," he said of New England bulking up. "I've been through a lot in my NFL career so it really doesn't affect me as far as guys coming in. I look it as a plus -- the team's going to be better. And if you have any type of injury or something, you have guys coming in who are all good, all fresh, all talented. It helps the team out, so I'm excited.

"The more guys you have, as far as personnel, it's always going to help you as far as options and things you're going to do with defensive scheme."

Ninkovich doesn't generally blow smoke. And he deserves some confidence.

Since arriving in New England as a lukewarm linebacking body in 2009, he's worked his way to be a staple of the Patriots defense.

Games started in Patriots Year One: 0. Games started in Year Three: 16.

Unsurprisingly, Ninkovich remains hungry. He's consistent in saying he's never cared for praise or accolades; it's personal ambition that drives him, that's motivated him to work through injury and practice squad obscurity during the early part of his career.

The plan for 2012 is to continue the steady climb, regardless of how many guys the Patriots brought in to nip at his heels.

He knows how to battle.

"Going into this year I really want to be more overall improved on coverage. Also get more pressure on the quarterback. I feel every year is kind of a step -- get a little bit better, get a little bit better -- and it also comes with experience."

"Last year helped me out with all the experience I had and all the game-time plays and situations things you go through in a whole season. It was a good year for me and now I just want to build on that and continue to do well out there."

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

raiders_marshawn_lynch_referee_102017.jpg

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

NEW YORK - Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch was suspended for one game without pay by the NFL on Friday for shoving a game official during the Raiders' victory over Kansas City on Thursday night.

Lynch was ejected from the game after he shoved line judge Julian Mapp.

The scuffle started when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr was hit late on a run by Kansas City's Marcus Peters midway through the second quarter. Raiders offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn immediately confronted Peters, and Lynch sprinted onto the field from the bench to join the fray. Mapp tried to break up the fight, but Lynch pushed him and grabbed his jersey. Lynch also got a personal foul.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote a letter to Lynch, saying:

"You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing an active confrontation between players. You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey. ... You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse, nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved."

Lynch will be eligible to return to Oakland's active roster on Oct. 30, the day after the Raiders' game against the Buffalo Bills.

Lynch finished the game with two carries for 9 yards.

The Raiders rallied to win 31-30 on a touchdown pass by Carr on the final play, and Lynch was in the locker room after the game congratulating his teammates.

Lynch came out of retirement this season and was traded from Seattle to the Raiders. Lynch said he wanted to make a comeback so he could give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE