This week against the Broncos, Rob Ninkovich forced two fumbles to lead the Patriots’ defense. The team beat Denver 31-21 and even though Ninkovich didn’t have a great start to the season, he’s been regaining his confidence.
“I just feel like the first couple of weeks, I took it personally some of the things that were going around about my style and how I was playing,” he said. “Obviously that wasn’t how I wanted my play to be evaluated. I kind of went back and, when I was playing defensive end in college, and I was kind of like ‘high motor, keep going, never stop’, not saying that I wasn’t doing that early on, I just think that maybe I was thinking too much as far as run-pass, instead of just beating the guy in front of me.”
The first forced fumble came on an impressive pass rush into the backfield. He rushed ahead of Manning then tracked back to the quarterback to hit him from behind and force him to fumble the ball.
“I was trying to set up my moves a little bit early,” Ninkovich continued. “I know those guys out there are good and they’re big and you have to give it to Manning, he’s got great pocket presence so the first couple drives I was trying to just bull-rush, trying to collapse the pocket a little big. Then on that one rush I just changed it up and swiped and got on the filed and the ball was there so we just got it out.”
The second forced fumble was even bigger. Ninkovich made his big play at the end of a 3-yard gain inside the red zone for Willis McGahee. Both of these fumbles were recovered by the Patriots.
“The fumble at the end of the game on the draw play I just saw the running back step inside so I just followed him and saw the ball on his right hand and tried to throw a hook at it,” Ninkovich said.
Rob Ninkovich receives Ace Feature Player this week for his ability to regain confidence and make a difference on the field. “I knew I was capable of making some big plays and being a guy that you can count on so the first couple of weeks I didn’t feel I was playing my style and the way I would like to play,” he said. “So I felt the last couple of weeks I’m doing some things that I’ve been trying to change.” Hopefully he can continue to change for the better throughout the rest of the season.