One reason he makes them? He’s always alert, safety Steve Gregory said.
‘‘He has good football instincts,’’ Gregory said. ‘‘He has a knack for the football. Those are some things that sometimes you can’t teach. He takes pride in doing that and he does it well.’’
Ninkovich has been compared to another Patriots outside linebacker who wore No. 50.
Mike Vrabel had no starts in four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, then started 12 games in 2001, the first of his eight seasons with New England. He is now an assistant coach at Ohio State, his alma mater.
‘‘I've never met him,’’ Ninkovich said. ‘‘Obviously, being here the last four years you definitely hear stories about how great he was, how smart he was. ... I'm still trying to fill the shoes that he left. They’re pretty big.’’
Ninkovich did catch two passes, both for touchdowns, as a tight end at Purdue. Vrabel had eight receptions, all for touchdowns, playing tight end with the Patriots. But Ninkovich doesn’t expect to be sharing time at that position with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, once he recovers from the broken left arm that landed him on injured reserve Thursday.
‘‘I think we have a few good tight ends here,’’ Ninkovich said. ‘‘So I'll stick to what I'm doing.’’
AP Sports Writer David Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this report.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL